In the world of NCAA women’s volleyball, there’s no conference quite like the Big Ten. Heading into the 2019 season, seven of the 14 teams appeared in the AVCA preseason top-25 poll. Five of those seven ranked in the top 10.
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*Schedule is subject to change. Every Big Ten's women's volleyball match available on BTN Plus also will be available live and on-demand on FloVolleyball.
This week, we're bringing you a quick rundown of all 14 teams in the Big Ten, so you can know what to expect as teams get the season rolling this weekend.
2018 Record: 25-7 (15-5 Big Ten)
2018 Postseason: NCAA Tournament Regional Finals
AVCA National Preseason Ranking: 5
Big Ten Preseason Ranking: 1
Over the summer, Wisconsin middle blocker Dana Rettke lined up across the net from some of the top volleyball players in the world, so don’t expect the 6-foot-8 junior to be at all intimidated by what the Big Ten throws at her this year.
Rettke spent most of the summer competing with Team USA, including being a member of the travel squad that won gold at the Volleyball Nations League and the one that qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in Bossier City, Louisiana, earlier this month.
Rettke, a two-time All-American, was already on a different level from every other middle in the country, quite literally, and it’s scary to think how dominant she can be this season after gaining confidence and experience with the national team.
On top of that, Wisconsin returns all but one of its starters. Not that four-year starting middle Tionna Williams won’t be a major challenge to replace, but then again, the Badgers do have 6-7 middle/opposite Julia Wohlert making her college debut this fall after redshirting last year, a perfectly capable returning middle in redshirt sophomore Danielle Hart and a First Team Under Armour All-American freshman in Courtney Gorum.
With Lauren Barnes transferring to Wisconsin from Minnesota over the offseason, the competition for the libero spot has heated up, with 2018 starter Tiffany Clark also facing pressure for the position from defensive specialist M.E. Dodge.
Then of course, you’ve got setter Sydney Hilley, who ranked third nationally in assists per set last year with 11.87. She’s a junior now and has well-established connections with Rettke and returning pins Madison Duello, Grace Loberg, and Molly Haggerty.
🎙 Kelly Sheffield Press Conference🎙— Wisconsin Volleyball (@BadgerVB) August 25, 2019
✅ Development over the first few practices
✅ Expectations for Florida State/North Carolina
✅ Experienced Roster
✅ Dana Rettke's growth over the summer
✅ Sydney Hilley's improvement since her Sophomore season pic.twitter.com/saY7OA5mjB
Wisconsin ranked fifth in the national preseason poll, but the Big Ten coaches voted the Badgers the favorite for the conference title, which just tells you how competitive this conference is.