For the first time in just over two months, Nebraska is once again No. 1 in the AVCA’s weekly coaches poll, the standard among college volleyball rankings. Although the Huskers began at preseason No. 1, they were quickly relegated to No. 2 then down to No. 3.
Nebraska’s return to the top comes with little surprise, as it boasts an 18-1 overall record and 10-0 conference record. Additionally, the Huskers have dropped just eight sets all season.
Nebraska has dominated the Big Ten thus far, winning its last six matches in straight sets, amounting to an 18-0 record with three convincing sweeps of top-25 opponents — Michigan, Penn State and Purdue. The Huskers’ performance in conference play has positioned them comfortably in the driver’s seat for a conference title, but the path to retaining their spot will not be easy. On Wednesday, Nebraska will travel to Madison, Wis. to face the No. 5 Badgers. The game will serve as a rematch of last year’s national championship which Wisconsin won over the Huskers in five sets.
Since October 2017, Wisconsin has defeated the Huskers in eight-straight matchups — winning 24 of the 30 sets. Nebraska will get a chance to strengthen its claim to the No. 1 spot and as the best team in the nation, but it will have to reverse the curse against an equally-dominant foe.
Despite the Huskers’ strong start to the regular season, it’s safe to say that their ascension did not come entirely of their own volition, but rather as the two teams above them – No. 1 Texas and No. 2 Louisville – suffered losses this past week which warranted demotions. Both teams lost on the road in five sets – the Longhorns to unranked Iowa State and the Cardinals to then-No. 8 Pittsburgh. The strength of the Big Ten further polished Nebraska’s resume, as it has faced four top-25 teams in conference play and handily defeated each of them – three of the four in straight-set victories.
Only 10 games remain in conference play before the regular season ends and the Huskers pursue a conference and national title — their last of each came in 2017. While it is once again atop the polls, all focus for Nebraska will be on its pending road test against the current possessor of both of those titles.