The very last week in the 2021 DI women's volleyball season is here. It all comes down to this, and we've got some good ones. Things are really coming down to the wire here with these big-time matchups right before the selection show. The committee is going to have to wait until the very end of the week to make their decisions, and we have conference championships and AQs on the line.
Here are the top matchups to watch in the final week of college volleyball:
No. 1 Louisville vs No. 3 Pitt | Wednesday, Nov. 24 at 5 p.m. ET on ACCN
The rematch is here. The last undefeated team in the nation will face its biggest test for round two in the last week of the season. So if they want to finish out the season, they will have to get past Pittsburgh for the second time. It wasn't easy the first time around and it won't be easy this time. The first matchup was the highest ranked ACC matchup in history. Louisville was able to hold off Pitt in five sets, while hitting .258 with five aces. Anna Stevenson had 13 kills and Amaya Tillman led the Cardinals in blocks with eight. Libero Elena Scott had 14 digs and setter Tori Dilfer had 57 assists and four blocks. For the Panthers, Leketor Member-Meneh notched 18 kills on .389 hitting, and Pitt hit above .300 as a team, but they still couldn't pull out the win.
Member-Meneh has been huge for Pittsburgh this season, especially in the second half of the season. She has amped up her game and will be a big component in this matchup in addition to Kayla Lund and Chinaza Ndee. What they will need is an answer to Louisville's service pressure, which was vital in the first win over Pitt. They had five aces and got Pittsburgh off of the net pretty often. But, Pitt was able to expose some weaknesses in Louisville as well. The Cards had 29 errors in the win, and were outhit by the Panthers. But it is likely both teams have learned from their first matchup, which should make for a great one Wednesday night.
What is better than a rivalry ACC matchup, with Pitt fighting for a top-four seed in the tournament and Louisville looking to stay undefeated and earn the No. 1 seed in the nation.
No. 20 Florida vs No. 8 Kentucky | Friday, Nov. 26 at 1 p.m. ET on SECN &
No. 20 Florida vs. No. 8 Kentucky | Saturday, Nov. 27 at 7 p.m. ET on SECN+
We have yet another rivalry matchup, this time in the SEC to close out the regular season. Kentucky will face its in-conference rival this week on Friday and Saturday. The Gators fell to No. 20 this season after suffering some unexpected losses. But despite the rankings, you can ALWAYS expect a Kentucky-Florida matchup to be a good one. The Gators made a good run in the 2020 NCAA tournament, and still have the majority of the same players as last season. So despite dropping to No. 20 this season, this is still a strong team. They are also currently in the midst of a nine-match winning streak which includes a win over Tennessee. T'Ara Ceaser and Thayer Hall lead the scoring effort and Elli McKissock leads the backcourt defense.
They will be facing a tough Kentucky team that, despite losing a few players from their national title team, has remained in the top 10 of the AVCA top 25 poll all season long. They recently dropped to No. 9 in my latest Power 10 rankings after their unexpected loss to South Carolina. So clearly, this team is beatable, and a rivalry matchup doesn't make matters any easier for the Wildcats.
The Wildcats are led by Alli Stumler and Madi Skinner offensively, and Emma Grome has done a pretty good job of filling in the big shoes of Madison Lilley, the 2020 NPOY. The Wildcats are looking to prove themselves to be a top 16 seed for the committee, or even top 10 next Sunday. These two matchups against Florida are absolutely vital for them.
No. 11 Nebraska vs No. 5 Wisconsin | Friday, Nov. 26 at 5 p.m. ET on BTN &
No. 11 Nebraska vs No. 6 Purdue | Saturday, Nov. 27 at 9 p.m. ET on BTN
The race for the Big Ten comes down to this week. Nebraska and Wisconsin are tied at 15-3 in the conference, and both will be fighting for the Big Ten title and automatic qualification. The Huskers have two extremely tough matchups this week to close out the season against Wisconsin and Purdue. The Big Ten is incredibly challenging, and I could see both of these matchups going either way. Wisconsin swept Nebraska earlier in the season, Nebraska took down Purdue for a huge four-set win, and then Purdue upset Wisconsin. I mean how can you make any predictions in this conference?
You always love to see the matchup between Lauren Stivrins and Dana Rettke at the net. The Badgers are hot coming off of an exhilarating win over Minnesota in five sets. They will face Nebraska in their last test this week, barring any unforeseen circumstances against Indiana, and they will be looking for the win to not only win the Big Ten but also secure a top four seed in the tournament with the chance to host the third and fourth rounds if they advance there. Dana Rettke posted 21 kills in the win over Minnesota, but it was Jade Demps and Devyn Robinson that were huge parts of the seven-point comeback in the fourth set. They will need to come up big again against Nebraska. Nebraska is of course looking for a favorable seed in the eyes of the committee, and they have both Wisconsin and Purdue.
The Boilermakers are hot coming off of two wins over both Wisconsin and Minnesota this week to storm back into my Power 10 rankings. Caitlyn Newton came up big in both games, and Purdue's block was incredibly strong. They will be up against two of the best blocking teams in the nation.