FloVolleyball Weekly Notebook: Wisconsin Continues Conference Dominance

Daylight Savings Time ends on Sunday, and there’s just a month left in the regular season. 

It’s a lot to juggle, so let us cut through the noise and bring you the top stories from the past week of women’s college volleyball.

Massive Week For UCLA

In the Oct. 21 AVCA poll, UCLA was unranked, No. 24 in the RPI, and had just lost 0-3 to Oregon and barely got past Oregon State in five sets. But last weekend, the Bruins made a very compelling case that they are better than their ranking and even than their previous results might indicate.

On Friday, UCLA hosted then No. 2 Stanford and handed the Cardinal only their fourth loss of the season — the first to come in straight sets. UCLA played tenacious defense with 48 total digs to hold Stanford to a .157 hitting percentage (their second-lowest match average of the season). On the offensive side, Mac May led all players with 12 kills, while Emily Ryan also reached double digits with 11. 

UCLA then continued to roll with a four-set victory over then-No. 15 Cal on Sunday. This time, May had 21 kills, and sophomore San Diego transfer libero Kelli Barry recorded her first double-double of the season with 17 digs and 10 assists.

Cal also lost on Friday night to USC in four sets. Stanford, however, was able to recover from the loss to UCLA to beat USC on Sunday, however, it required a comeback from down 0-2. Stanford freshman Kendall Kipp had a massive night to lead the charge, finishing the match with a career-high 23 kills.

Purdue Downs Nebraska

It is never a quiet week in the Big Ten, and last week the top story out of the toughest women’s volleyball conference was Purdue knocking off then-No. 5 Nebraska.

The match couldn’t have been more insane. Purdue held a 17-9 lead in set one but then allowed Nebraska to get back in and win the set 25-23. Most teams would crumble under the disappointment of losing such a large lead, but not Purdue. The Boilermakers won the next two sets, lost the fourth, and then dominated in the fifth set, hitting .353 and holding Nebraska to a .000 clip.

Purdue out-blocked Nebraska 16 to five, and even won the match on a block of Nebraska’s Lexi Sun, who tied with Husker middle Lauren Stivrins to lead all players with 18 kills. Caitlyn Newton carried the heaviest offensive load for Purdue, taking 61 swings in the match and scoring 17 kills. 

Purdue also served extremely well, finishing with 10 aces to Nebraska’s seven.

In this week’s AVCA poll, Purdue rose four spots to No. 16 while Nebraska fell three to No. 8.

Wisconsin Doesn’t Stumble Without Rettke

Dana Rettke missed two matches — a home match versus Northwestern on Oct. 19 and a road contest versus Michigan State on Oct. 25 — with a foot injury, but Wisconsin continued to roll in her absence. 

Junior Nicole Shanahan started for the injured Rettke, finishing the Northwestern match with five kills, an ace, and four blocks. Against Michigan State, Shanahan had just two kills and hit -.111 but she added two aces and a block, and the Badgers still won in straight sets. 

Rettke returned on Sunday to help Wisconsin defeat Michigan in four. The 6-8 junior middle led all players with 15 kills, hitting .429, in addition to season-high numbers from behind the service line and at the net with four aces and 10 blocks.

Undefeated League Leaders

Across the 32 Division I conferences that sponsor women’s volleyball, 16 have teams undefeated in league play sitting at the top of their standings. 

The Atlantic 10 and Conference USA are extra special in that even past the midpoint of the season, both conferences still have two teams undefeated in conference action — Dayton (16-7, 9-0) and VCU (17-5, 8-0) in the A10 and WKU (23-1, 9-0) and Rice (19-1, 8-0) in C-USA. The A10’s top teams will go head-to-head on Sunday, Nov. 17, in Dayton, while Rice and WKU face off on Sunday, Nov. 10. 

The undefeated conference leaders are listed below: 

ACC: Pittsburgh (21-1, 10-0)

America East: UAlbany (11-9, 6-0)

Big 12: Texas (15-2, 9-0)

Big East: Creighton (17-3, 10-0)

Big South: Winthrop (17-4, 9-0)

Big Ten: Wisconsin (15-4, 11-0)

CAA: Towson (20-2, 10-0)

MAAC: Fairfield (16-4, 11-0)

MEAC: Howard (12-11, 9-0)

Mountain West: Colorado State (11-0, 21-1)

NEC: Robert Morris (20-3, 10-0)

Southland: Stephen F. Austin (22-1, 10-0)

Summit League: South Dakota (21-1, 10-0)

WAC: New Mexico State (20-3, 11-0)

This weekend, you can see two of these undefeated conference leaders live in action right here on FloVolleyball as the CAA’s Towson takes on James Madison Friday night and Sunday Wisconsin plays Indiana. 

Is the end of amateurism upon us? 

The NCAA has announced that it plans to permit college athletes to benefit from the use of their name, likeness, image, etc. Although no official timeline accompanied that announcement, it’s the first indication from the NCAA that it is willing to budge at all on its policies of amateurism. Likely, this comes as a result of California passing a law that bars schools from preventing student-athletes from earning money from advertising and hiring agents.

For more information on this developing story, check out this article from NPR or read the NCAA statement here.

Of course many view these rule changes as most significant for male athletes in the big-money sports like football and basketball, but this article on CNN by University of Texas professor and former NFL coach Daron K. Roberts makes a compelling argument about why this change might be an even bigger deal for female athletes who have fewer professional opportunities post-college.

Upcoming NCAA Volleyball Matches Live on FloVolleyball:

Friday, Nov. 1

Charleston vs. William & Mary 7 PM ET

James Madison vs. Towson 7 PM ET

Michigan State vs. Northwestern 8 PM ET

Rutgers vs. Nebraska 8 PM ET

Penn State vs. Iowa 8 PM ET

Saturday, Nov. 2

Maryland vs. Ohio State 7 PM ET

Rutgers vs. Iowa 8 PM ET

Michigan State vs. Illinois 8 PM ET

Michigan vs. Northwestern 8 PM ET

Sunday, Nov. 3

Wisconsin vs. Indiana 12 PM ET

NCAA Tournament Watch Guide

The NCAA tournament is here. Check out the slate of games you can watch right here on FloVolleyball.

All The NCAA Tournament Info You Need

The NCAA Tournament is here! The selection committee released the bracket Sunday night and action starts Thursday at 4:30 pm ET. 

Big Ten Weekend Watch Guide

For most conferences the post season has already begun, for the Big Ten there are still a number of regular season games to settle first. 

FloVolleyball Weekly Notebook: Tickets Punched

It’s our last weekly update of the regular season. Here are the top headlines and storylines leading up to Sunday’s NCAA Selection Show.

American Men In CEV Champions League

Just like we did a few weeks ago with the women, we’re going to make it a whole lot easier for you to follow your favorite American professional volleyball players overseas by breaking down where you can see Team USA athletes in the 2019-20 CEV Champions League. 

Biggest Takeaways From The CAA Championship

Towson’s magical season hasn’t come to an end yet. The Tigers strolled through the 2019 Colonial Athletic Association Championship to claim the program’s second conference title and secure an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. They are the first team since 1996 to go undefeated in the regular season and win the postseason championship.

CAA Championship Wrap Up

Towson became the first team in over a decade to go undefeated for an entire season in CAA play and win the conference title in the same year since George Mason in 1996. The Tigers won 22 straight games, with 16 of them being conference wins, to finish the season at 28-2 overall and 16-0 in the CAA. They now receive an automatic bid to the 2019 NCAA Volleyball tournament.

Everything You Need To Know About The NCAA Postseason

The postseason is officially upon us. Thursday, four conferences begin their tournaments, with eight more kicking off Friday, and one league, the Southern Conference, started its tourney with a play-in match on Tuesday night. NCAA Tournament berths are on the line come the championship matches on Saturday and Sunday.

Top 7 Big Ten Matches Of 2019

Two more weeks of competition remain before the 2019 Big Ten women’s volleyball champion is crowned. There’s still plenty of time for big, game-changing results to roll in, but we wanted to take a moment to look back on some of the most exciting matches of the season to date in what is one of the, if not the, most competitive women’s volleyball conference out there. 

CAA Championship Preview: Towson Heavily Favored

The final regular-season results for the 2019 Colonial Athletic Association women’s volleyball rolled in on Sunday, and the nine teams in the league assumed their final positions in the standings.