Big Ten 2023, News.

Michigan State 2910

Michigan State players celebrate their big win over Penn State (Photo: Michigan State)

In a week full of upsets in the Big Ten women’s volleyball conference, Michigan State and Illinois caused probably the two main ones, defeating higher-ranked opponents to move up in the standings.

Both results happened on Saturday, with Michigan State topping third-placed Penn State and the Fighting Illini overcoming fourth-placed Purdue in the sixth week of conference play.

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Playing in front of their fans in East Lansing, the Spartans defeated Penn State for the first time in ten years, getting on the winning side of a five-set (25-19, 11-25, 16-25, 25-18, 18-16) battle to secure a historic result.

“When you win set one, you know that’s a team you can beat,” Michigan State head coach Leah Johnson said. “Sets two and three were below norm for us, so we knew we’d regress to our mean and stop giving them so many points. Eventually, we surpassed our norm and that’s the level we’ve been training to get to. I was really happy with the way the team responded.”

Freshman outside hitter Taylah Holdem led the team’s offense with 14 kills, while senior libero Nalani Iosia had 15 digs and junior setter Julia Bishop had 26 assists and nine digs.

Michigan State, who lost to Wisconsin in three sets on Friday, now have six wins and six losses in Big Ten play, ranking seventh in the conference.

Placed two spots above them with sevens and five losses, Illinois capped off a productive week with a big home win against Purdue in Urbana-Champaign on Saturday. The team, which had triumphed in five sets against Indiana on Wednesday, got the job done in four (20-25, 25-19, 26-24, 25-18) against the Boilermakers.

Senior outside hitter Raina Terry led the Fighting Illini with 19 kills, three blocks and one ace while sophomore setter Brooke Mosher also had a remarkable night, with a career-high 47 assists to go with six blocks, four kills and two aces.

Also defeating teams ranked above them on the weekend were 13th-placed Michigan (two wins, ten losses), who upset 11th-placed Ohio State (five wins, seven losses) in four sets (20-25, 25-22, 25-21, 25-22) on Sunday, and tenth-placed Northwestern (sive wins, seven losses), who topped sixth-placed Indiana (seven wins, five losses) in the tie-breaker (25-23, 32-34, 21-25, 25-22, 15-10) on the same day.

Nebraska continue on top

Big Ten leaders Nebraska followed up on their big win over defending champions Wisconsin last weekend and got to 12 victories in the season with home sweeps of Maryland (25-19, 25-17, 25-8) on Friday and Rutgers (25-22, 25-15, 25-12) on Saturday.

Freshman outside hitter Harper Murray led the Cornhuskers in the first match with 20 points (16 kills, three blocks, one ace), while junior outside hitter Ally Batenhorst, with 17 points, and junior opposite Merritt Beason, with 16, stood out against Rutgers.

Next matches on Wednesday

After a two-day break, Big Ten action resumes on Wednesday, when the first two matches of the seventh week of the season will take place – five matches will be held on Friday, three on Saturday and four on Sunday.

Two matches will be streamed live for VBTV subscribers around the world – Ohio State vs. Indiana, on Saturday, at 19:00 local time (23:00 UTC), and Purdue vs. Penn State, on Sunday, at 13:00 local time (17:00 UTC).

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