With less than a week left in the Big Ten women’s volleyball regular season, Penn State and Nebraska remain tied for the No. 1 spot in the conference with identical 17-1 league records. But last week there were plenty of upsets and movement in the lower ranks.
Here are the top takeaways from last week’s Big Ten action.
1. Michigan is on a serious roll.
When Michigan played Illinois for the first time this season, the Fighting Illini snuck away with a five-set victory, winning 17-15 in the fifth. In the second go-round on November 11, however, Michigan won in five, behind 18 kills from outside hitter Carly Skjodt and six blocks from Claire Kieffer-Wright. The victory marked a major rebound for the Wolverines, who just a night before lost to Northwestern, which is 4-14 in conference, ranked third from the bottom in the Big Ten standings.
Michigan continued to run with its momentum, sweeping Michigan State and pulling off a 3-1 upset victory over Purdue over the weekend. The Wolverines improved to 9-9 in the Big Ten and Skjodt was named Big Ten Player of the Week. The pair of victories marked Michigan’s first back-to-back victories over top-25 opponents since 2015.
2. Ninth Freshman of the Week honor for Dana Rettke.
On Monday, the Big Ten named Wisconsin middle blocker Dana Rettke its freshman of the week for the ninth time this season. Until this season, the most times a single player was named freshman of the week by the Big Ten was six (Minnesota setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson in 2015).
In the Badgers’ sweep of Northwestern on Sunday, Rettke posted her first career double-double with 13 kills and a career-high 10 blocks. She led Wisconsin in kills against Northwestern and against Illinois on Friday night. Between the two matches, she maintained a .560 hitting percentage.
3. Illinois gets its breakthrough victory.
Illinois has played a lot of the best teams in the Big Ten very tough so far this season. The Fighting Illini took sets off of Wisconsin and Nebraska, pushed Minnesota to five, and beat Michigan the first time they played them this season.
But despite those admirable performances, the Illinois squad, led by first-year head coach Chris Tamas, had yet to secure a signature win over a top conference team. That is until Saturday evening, when the Illini took out Minnesota in four sets.
The win was Illinois’ first over Minnesota in three years. Junior setter Jordyn Poulter not only dished out 50 assists to lead the Illini to a .333 team hitting percentage, but she also had nine kills with no errors on 12 attempts to hit .750, 17 digs, and a match-high five blocks. Senior libero Brandi Donnelly scored her first-ever double-double with a career-high 32 digs and 10 assists. Jacqueline Quade led the match with 21 kills.
This week, watch 11 Big Ten women’s volleyball matches LIVE right here on FloVolleyball.
|Date||Visiting Team||Home Team||Site||Time (ET)||Live Stream|
|11/22||Ohio State||Maryland||College Park, MD||7:00 PM||WATCH LIVE|
|11/22||Nebraska||Northwestern||Evanston, IL||8:00 PM||WATCH LIVE|
|11/22||Michigan||Purdue||West Lafayette, IN||7:00 PM||WATCH LIVE|
|11/24||Michigan||Indiana||Bloomington, IN||6:00 PM||WATCH LIVE|
|11/24||Michigan State||Purdue||West Lafayette, IN||7:00 PM||WATCH LIVE|
|11/24||Northwestern||Maryland||College Park, MD||7:00 PM||WATCH LIVE|
|11/24||Penn State||Wisconsin||Madison, WI||8:00 PM||WATCH LIVE|
|11/24||Rutgers||Minnesota||Minneapolis, MN||8:00 PM||WATCH LIVE|
|11/25||Michigan State||Indiana||West Lafayette, IN||7:00 PM||WATCH LIVE|
|11/25||Illinois||Ohio State||Columbus, OH||7:00 PM||WATCH LIVE|
|11/25||Rutgers||Wisconsin||Madison, WI||8:00 PM||WATCH LIVE|