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Michella Chester | NCAA.com | November 3, 2021

Long-awaited Texas-Baylor volleyball showdown highlights top matchups to watch this week

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Well, it is finally here. I have been waiting and waiting to finally say that Texas-Baylor week is upon us. The top-ranked Texas Longhorns will face their top-10 conference rival this season ... TWICE. That battle in the Big 12 highlights the week, but we have also got two other good ones in the Big Ten and Pac-12 that I want to highlight. 

Here are my top three matchups you won't want to miss in college volleyball: 

No. 1 Texas at No. 10 Baylor | 9 p.m. ET Friday, Nov. 5 on ESPNU and 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 6 on Big 12 Now on ESPN+

Texas Volleyball

The Longhorns have been No. 1 in the AVCA top 25 since the preseason after they made it all the way to the national title match a season ago, falling to Kentucky. The Longhorns returned five All Americans this season and have yet to lose a match, often winning in sweeps. So what reason would there be to dethrone them? Well, the NCAA DI women's volleyball committee came out with their top-10 rankings — and the Longhorns were second behind Louisville. The Cardinals are the only other undefeated team in the nation. The difference? Louisville has strong top-10 wins, while the Longhorns do not. Texas has a few ranked wins, but none against teams currently in the top 10. Their two biggest wins are over No. 19 Stanford and No. 11 Minnesota. 

DI WVB Committee reveals its top 10: Louisville takes No. 1 ranking, and more, explained

Big 12 rival Baylor is No. 10 in the AVCA poll this week, but they rank higher at No. 8 in the Committee's top 10. They scheduled a tough non-conference schedule this year and thus picked up a few losses, but they also have a really high RPI (fifth) and are on a six-match winning streak. Yossiana Pressley led the Bears to the national semifinals in 2019. This season she's joined by Kentucky transfer Avery Skinner to give this team a new look. The Baylors are lacking a top-10 win — and now they get the top-ranked Longhorns.

Last season Texas and Baylor played three times with Texas winning all three matches — though two went the full five sets. However, I think Baylor has improved. The Bears will have to deal with Texas' aggressive serve if they want to be competitive. They'll also get two chances against No. 1 on consecutive nights.

No. 13 UCLA vs No. 16 Utah | 9 p.m. ET Friday, Nov. 5 on Pac-12 Network

UCLA Women's Volleyball

We have got a great rematch over in the Pac-12. UCLA just made some headlines last week after taking down Washington in a straight sweep, and making an appearance in the Committee's top 10 rankings. The win over the Huskies further solidified that ranking and established them as the frontrunner of the Pac-12. They moved to 17-3 on the season with multiple ranked wins. 

Utah will be fighting for a top-16 national seed at the end of the regular season come selections on Nov. 28. They have been hot and cold all year but have taken down some really big teams for big upsets: Washington and Nebraska. They are 16-5 on the season, though, and one of those five losses was a sweep to UCLA. Now, we've got the rematch, and I would never automatically count Utah out of anything this season. 

This will be a great offensive showdown between two of the most dominant hitters in the nation, Dani Drews of Utah and Mac May of UCLA. So there is one reason to watch this matchup. The other is that UCLA got some big kudos as a top-10 team in the eyes of the committee, they proved it with a win over Washington, and another ranked win will be important for them. 

No. 9 Nebraska vs No. 7 Ohio State | 7 p.m. ET Saturday, Nov. 6 on BTN+

Nebraska Volleyball

Now for the Big Ten matchup of the week — Nebraska vs. Ohio State. Both teams have a lot to prove here. Nebraska won 10 straight matches in the Big Ten before dropping two in a row to Wisconsin and Minnesota in five ... two incredibly good teams. Ohio State also dropped two in a row two weeks ago to Wisconsin and Minnesota. The same exact teams. Following those two losses, OSU won two against the Michigan schools. Now it's time Nebraska and Ohio State face each other. Both will be trying to prove they deserve to be in the top 10. They are incredibly close in the rankings, and understandably so. 

This is the classic battle between the old Nebraska volleyball powerhouse and the up and coming Ohio State Buckeyes. However, this season this Nebraska team has a ton of young, new talent. So the Buckeyes might actually win when it comes to the experience category. The Huskers do have All American Lauren Stivrins back as their leader, and they have all improved drastically since her return. The Buckeyes will be led offensively by Emily Londot and Mia Grunze. Defensively, we will have two phenomenal liberos with Lexi Rodriguez for Nebraska and Kylie Murr for Ohio State. 

Both the Huskers and Buckeyes really need a win here. OSU has a tough weekend with Minnesota just two days before this top-10, Big Ten throwdown.

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