It's about that time again to take a look at the top series to keep an eye on in the college volleyball world. And this time, we have got a biggie: a top-5 Big Ten showdown.
No. 4 Nebraska vs. No. 5 Minnesota | Friday, Feb. 19 at 9 p.m. Eastern on the Big Ten Network and Sunday, Feb. 21 at 12 p.m. Eastern on the Big Ten Network
We have got our very first top-5 showdown of the spring 2021 season, and considering the fact that there are three Big Ten teams in the top 5 as of now, we will be seeing more of these monster Big Ten matchups this season.
If you consider my Power 10 rankings, this would be a No. 3 vs. No. 4 matchup. And with this one, it is hard to find a place to start. Nebraska has some really high hopes for this season. They have their entire team back from last season, with familiar stars like Lauren Stivrins, Lexi Sun and Nicklin Hames at setter leading the group, and now a developed youth from last season as well. But this is going to be their first really big test, and after this one, they have No. 1 Wisconsin up next. It is getting legit.
So far though, the team has looked really good in their first few series — and incredibly balanced. They have Stivirins putting up points, Sun matching those points, Jazz Sweet, Madi Kubik, Riley Zuhn...you name it. It will be interesting to see if that changes against a team with just as much depth on the other side of the net: Minnesota.
The Gophers have already been battle tested. They have two wins over No. 11 Purdue and now two top-10 wins over No. 8 Penn State. And if they have been showing anything all season, it's that they have depth. The upperclassman have been phenomenal. Stephanie Samedy has been swinging it, with three consecutive outings of 20-plus kills. Then there is Regan Pittman, Adanna Rollins, and CC McGraw as a strong voice and consistent force in the back court. But on top of that, they have some stud freshmen as well, and one in particular... Taylor Landfair. The 6-foot-5 freshman has been hammering down kills all season, and according to CC McGraw, she is almost just as calm and composed as the upperclassmen, not phased by much of anything.
McGraw sat down with NCAA.com to discuss this year's Gopher team and preview the upcoming Nebraska series:
I couldn't be more excited to see how these two teams match up.
Some other ranked matchups to keep your eye on:
Over in the Pac-12, the Utah-Oregon series has been cancelled due to COVID-19 protocol. No. 17 Washington State will be taking on No. 23 Stanford, and this could be a good one. The Cardinal are now two series into the season, which is practically like a preseason to them since they had such a late start, and Meghan McClure is now back in the lineup. Washington State is a tough opponent as well, and have proven to be a strong team this year. Another rivalry ranked matchup is in the Big East between No. 20 Creighton and No. 24 Marquette. They already played once and split the series.