In holding off Michigan State, the Illini were propelled by Colleen Ward's spectacular .538 hitting percentage (22 kills with only 1 hitting error, on 39 attempts). The usually steady Erin Johnson had an off-night hittng for the Orange and Blue (-.118; 2-4-17), but did contribute 9 block assists. Kyndra Abron (.367; 16-5-30) paced the Spartans (see box score).
Nebraska dropped the opening two games at Minnesota, before rallying for a 28-30, 19-25, 25-10, 25-12, 15-11 win. For the Cornhuskers, it was the balanced offensive attack we're accustomed to seeing from them, with four players registering solid, if unspectacular, hitting percentages against the Gophers: Brooke Delano, .294; Gina Mancuso, .283; Hannah Werth, .270; and Morgan Broekhuis, .256. Nebraska outhit (.243-.111), outblocked (17-8), and outdug (85-73) Minnesota (box score). Tori
Other than an early-season road match in which Nebraska routed Colorado State 25-12 and 25-11 in the first two games only to see the Rams storm back to take the final three, the Huskers have passed every test placed in front of them. These have included matches against Iowa State (now a non-conference opponent), Penn State, Purdue, and Minnesota. I think Nebraska arguably deserves to be ranked as high as No. 2. A win over Illinois next Saturday would probably vault Nebraska to (or near) the No. 1 slot. An Illini win would obviously bolster its No. 1 status.
In the Pac 12, No. 2 Washington traveled to the northern California schools, but lost to both No. 4 Cal and No. 7 Stanford. Cal middle blocker Shannon Hawari had the offensive formula against Washington, hitting .409 (12-3-22), whereas the Golden Bears’ star outside hitter Tarah Murrey was held in check by the Huskies (.132; 21-12-68). U-Dub was led against Cal by the near error-free hitting of MB Bianca Rowland (.400; 11-1-25) and frosh OH Summer Ross (.333; 14-1-39). No Husky player hit above .182 vs. Stanford. The Cardinal was led against Washington by Carly Wopat (.500;
One last note: Texas Tech OH Amanda Dowdy, who virtually always takes a large share of the team's spike attempts, took a whopping 42.6% of the Red Raiders' swings yesterday at Missouri (58/136). She produced quality as well as quantity, hitting .293, which is her best in conference play this year (this news release cites the last time she exceeded .293 as being during pre-conference play). The Red Raiders (14-7, 0-6) are still looking for their first conference win, however. They hung tight with the Tigers, before falling 25-22, 23-25, 25-22, 25-21.