The Big Ten never fails to have great matchups each week in college volleyball. This week, there are three marquee games we’re watching, along with a revenge game for No. 10 Pittsburgh against the team responsible for the Panthers' lone loss.
Here are the games you should be watching this week in Division I women’s volleyball.
No. 12 Purdue at No. 8 Wisconsin, 8 p.m. ET, Friday, BTN2Go
The Badgers (16-6, 9-5) had to spend the whole week with two home losses to Minnesota and Michigan hanging over their head. They’ll have an opportunity to bounce back with another ranked team that could jump into the top 10 with another major ranked road win. Purdue’s (21-4, 10-4) Sherridan Atkinson and Wisconsin’s Dana Rettke are All-American caliber players that rank in the top five in kills per set in the Big Ten and each have earned national player of the week awards this year.
No. 7 Penn State at No. 4 Illinois, 8 p.m. ET, Saturday, BTN2Go
This marks the only meeting between the Illini (22-3, 11-3) and the Nittany Lions (19-5, 10-4) this season. It’s no surprise it’s a crucial one for two teams hoping to lock up a top-four national seed in the NCAA tournament to guarantee home court through the regionals. Penn State leads the conference in blocks at 2.94 per set. But Illinois has middle blocker Ali Bastianelli (.402 hitting percentage) and outside hitter Jacqueline Quade (4.19 kills per set). Watching freshmen middle Kaitlyn Hord and outside Jonni Parker as well as senior Taylor Leath against that Illinois attack will be one of the best matchups this season.
No. 6 Nebraska at No. 15 Michigan, 7 p.m. ET, Saturday, BTN2Go
After losing in a mid-week game for the second straight week, this time to Maryland, the Wolverines (19-7, 8-7) have another chance to rebound in an upset win against a top-10 team — like they did last week against Wisconsin.
Nebraska (19-6, 10-5), on the other hand, seems energized after its five-set win at home against Penn State last weekend. Lauren Stivrins was fantastic for the Huskers against Penn State, hitting more than .500. However, make no mistake about it — Mikaela Foecke on the outside continues to make the Huskers go.
Duke at No. 10 Pittsburgh, 1 p.m. ET, Sunday, WatchESPN
Pitt (25-1, 13-1) looked poised for an unbeaten season with no ranked teams remaining on schedule after it beat Louisville. The Duke Blue Devils spoiled that possibility. Now when the two teams meet again, there’s no doubt the Panthers will be looking for revenge.
Duke dominated at the net with 13 blocks and hit .316 for the match, including .500 in the third set. For the Blue Devils to get another upset win, they’ll have to slow down Pitt outside Kayla Lund (3.71 kills per set) and middle Layne Van Buskirk, who is fourth in the country in hitting percentage (.421).
No. 19 Washington State at No. 13 Southern California, 4:30 p.m. ET, Sunday
After sweeping Oregon on the road last weekend, Southern Cal (18-8, 10-5) was without starters Khalia Lanier, Brooke Botkin and Reni Meyer-Whalley and lost a home match to Washington on Thursday. Washington State (19-6, 10-5) will present the Trojans another challenge on Sunday, and not just because the Cougars are ranked 19th in the country, but they’re also on the border of a national seed. Without Lanier and Botkin — one of the best duos in the country — and their starting defensive specialist, the Trojans aren’t nearly as threatening.
Other games to watch: No. 12 Purdue at No. 3 Minnesota (Saturday), Cincinnati at No. 22 UCF (Friday), Arizona State at Colorado (Friday), Arizona at Utah (Friday)