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

Multiyear Partnership: FloSports and Mountain Pacific Sports Federation

AUSTIN, Texas — November 12, 2019 — Today, FloSports, the innovator in live digital sports and original content, and Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) announced an extended multiyear partnership to serve as the official broadcast partner. FloSports will provide live and on-demand content and coverage of two Conference Championships exclusively on FloTrack.org and FloVolleyball.tv.

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NCAA Weekend Watch Guide

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American Women In CEV Champions League

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NCAA Games Live This Weekend

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NCAA Games Live This Weekend

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FloVolleyball's Weekly Notebook: UT Takes Out #1 Baylor

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Towson Looking To Stay Flawless In CAA

Fresh off of conference wins, Towson and Northeastern are set to take the court against one another this Friday (Oct. 25).