We have a lot of good volleyball coming up this weekend as we head into week four of the season. Here are the top three matchups to watch (all times Eastern):
No. 10 Washington vs. No. 18 UCLA | 9 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 12 on UCLA Livestream and 6 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 14, on Pac-12 Networks
In our first matchup to keep your eye on this weekend, Washington will be trying to prove it does deserve to be in the top 10. I'd say a pair of top-25 wins would do so. The Huskies' offense has been working really efficiently with the trio of Claire Hoffman, Madi Endsley and Samantha Drechsel. All three had 12 or more kills and hit over .400 in a sweep of Oregon State. They have been moving the ball really well, thanks to All-American setter Ella May Powell.
UCLA just split its last series with Washington State and split with Oregon the week before that. Oregon is receiving votes and Washington State is now at No. 22 in the AVCA poll. Mac May has been so consistent for the Bruins, and freshman Iman Ndiaye has been impressive as well. She contributed 10 kills to May’s 21 last match. Ndiaye and players like Elan McCall and Allison Jacobs will have to have big games to top No. 10 Washington.
May, by the way, sat down with NCAA.com to discuss the upcoming series. She said her team has been trying out different personnel and lineups to see what works and what doesn't. Without a preseason, a lot of teams are just now starting to figure it out, so this could be a big weekend.
No. 11 Purdue vs. No. 24 Michigan | 6 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 13, on Big Ten Network Plus and 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 14, on Big Ten Network
Purdue lost its last two matches against Minnesota last weekend, yet moved up in the rankings from No. 13 to No. 11. How is this possible? Well, they pushed a strong Minnesota team to five sets twice. Grace Cleveland was back in the lineup after the first two weeks out, and they did look really strong. This team has four losses, but they are losses to premiere talent in the Big Ten: the No. 1 team in the country, Wisconsin, and the No. 5 team in the country, Minnesota. Caitlyn Newton posted 29 kills last match, an impressive outing, and Cleveland notched 13.
Now they will have a chance to shine over the No. 24 team in the country, Michigan. I know the Wolverines are all the way down at 24… but we haven't seen them play yet. Every match thus far has been postponed, and they are (fingers crossed) supposed to be back in action this weekend. Paige Jones and crew deserve their shot.
No. 5 Minnesota vs. No. 8 Penn State | 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 13, on Big Ten Network and 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 14, on Big Ten Network
Minnesota has been looking good this season, and now has reached a tough stretch. Stephanie Samedy has been phenomenal and the Gophers' new talent has been too, so it will be exciting to see them in a high-caliber Big Ten matchup. We have seen No. 8 Penn State in only two matches so far. We were ready for the continuation of Kaitlyn Hord and Jonni Parker this season, but freshman Annie Cate Fitzpatrick has been the biggest surprise. Fitzpatrick led all scoring in both of the Nittany Lions' two matches — that is a big deal for a freshman on a top team. This matchup could be really high energy and one of the first big top-10 showdowns of the season.