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Michella Chester | NCAA.com | October 20, 2022

Here are the top matchups to watch in Week 9 of college volleyball

College volleyball rankings: Ohio State jumps to No. 5 in Power 10

Week after week, the top four teams in my Power 10 rankings have remained the same. Texas, Louisville, Nebraska and San Diego. I have been waiting to see these top teams get tested, and the week for that has finally come. Excluding Texas, who faced Baylor last week (likely the toughest test for the Longhorns out of the Big 12), the rest of the teams have a tough conference matchup this week. Louisville will face Pittsburgh in a top-10 battle for the two teams' first of two matchups this season, while San Diego will face BYU in the WCC. Nebraska has Purdue, and will get tested again next week in a top-10 showdown. 

We did have a monumental upset take place on Wednesday night — Iowa State took down Texas, the top-ranked and last undefeated team in the nation in five sets. Here is how it went down. 

Here is a preview of the top 3 volleyball matchups to watch this week:

No. 17 BYU at No. 4 San Diego | 10 p.m. ET Friday, Oct. 21 on WCC Network

San Diego VB

Now for San Diego's test. The Toreros surged into the top five this season after taking down two top 10 teams in Pitt and Ohio State. Their only loss on the season is to Louisville, the No. 2 team in the nation. They made it all the way to No. 4, and then they haven't lost since... so they have stayed. But after a win over then-No. 17 Pepperdine, they haven't faced a ranked matchup since. BYU is typically the strongest school out of the WCC in recent years. This year, it is obviously San Diego, and BYU has dropped off a bit. The Cougars scheduled a tough non-conference slate, but lost to all of them — OSU, Pitt and Georgia Tech. They won a lot after that, but just recently dropped a five-setter to Pacific and dropped to No. 17 because of it. 

They will have to follow up that loss with a matchup against the No. 4 team in the nation. San Diego must win to maintain its top-four status, and BYU will be looking to re-establish themselves. It should be a great matchup with a lot of great players. Katie Lukes and Grace Frohling have been so great for San Diego offensively, while Gabby Blossom has made a huge difference for them at setter. BYU has one of the best middle blockers in the country with Heather Gneiting. They will likely rely on her for a lot of points and offensive AND defensive work. If you're willing to stay up late this Friday night, you will want to keep your eye on this matchup. 

No. 2 Louisville at No. 8 Pitt | 1 p.m. ET Sunday, Oct. 23 on ESPNU

Louisville Volleyball

Kind of saved the best for last. But this really is my favorite matchup of the week. Our first Louisville-Pitt matchup is coming up this Sunday. Louisville and Pitt are not only the two strongest teams in the ACC, but two of the strongest teams in the nation. We have a full out top-10 matchup on our hands and it is the first of two meetings this season. The Cards still just have one loss on the season to Ohio State and a plethora of ranked wins... hence the No. 2 ranking. This is an incredibly balanced team with weapons all over the court. Great defense with Elena Scott, incredible offense led by Claire Chaussee, who is having a great year, strong blocking and then a very accomplished setter in Raquel Lazaro. She filled in big shoes for Tori Dilfer this year and has not missed a beat. 

Pitt has some great wins, too, including over BYU, Ohio State and Georgia Tech. They have impressed this year after losing a lot of talent from 2021. Courtney Buzzerio has burst on to the scene for the Panthers and leads the offense with over four points per set. I expect this to be a really competitive matchup — Pitt will need to at least split with Louisville to get a really high seeding in the tournament, so they are going to play to win. Get excited for this ACC matchup on Sunday. 

No. 3 Nebraska 3, No. 12 Purdue 0

Nebraska Volleyball

Nebraska took down Purdue in sweep on Wednesday night. Here is a set-by-set recap of the match. 

Preview:

Our first test for one of the top four teams is on Wednesday night, when Nebraska takes on Purdue in the Big Ten. The Huskers have been sitting pretty at No. 3 for weeks now, but still have a lot of Big Ten tests remaining on the schedule. Purdue will be one of them this week. The Boilermakers looked like they were going to be a top dog in the Big Ten this season when they swept Minnesota early on. But they recently fell out of the top 10 after losing to Wisconsin and then getting swept by unranked Maryland. Now, they have the top-ranked Big Ten team and No. 3 team in the nation in Nebraska. A win over a team like the Huskers would push them right back into the top 10 conversations and change the game moving forward. 

Nebraska, on the other hand, has swept its last FOUR opponents. Including two ranked wins over Penn State and Michigan. They have been looking really good, and over really good teams. The offense has been really balanced, especially since Ally Batenhorst is back on the court. Coach John Cook seems to be sticking with Nicklin Hames at setter for the last few matches as opposed to a 6-2, and it seems to be working for them. She did take them to the national championship last season, after all. In the last win over Northwestern, three players had nine kills and one had eight — that sounds like a well-distributed offense. 

The Boilermakers have found success when their star freshman Eva Hudson goes off — she had 21 kills against Minnesota. Against Wisconsin and Maryland, she had significantly less. The Boilermakers will have to try to spread the ball out more and get Hudson different looks if they want to succeed against Nebraska's strong block. Should be interesting to see how they bounce back from falling out of the top 10. 

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