We all know Big Ten volleyball is brutal. Right now there are right teams ranked in the top 25 of the NCAA volleyball poll with Illinois not far out at No. 28. Purdue still has upcoming games against No. 1 Nebraska, No. 3 Minnesota, No. 6 Wisconsin, No. 19 Ohio State, No. 20 Penn State, No. 22 Michigan State, and No. 23 Michigan. Whoever wins the Big Ten will definitely earn it, and as we saw a few years ago, just because you compete well in the conference doesn’t mean you will get through to the NCAAs.
That is why Purdue has beefed up its non-conference schedule this year. The Boilers are now 8-1 after sweeping Southeastern Louisiana in the first match this morning of the Stacy Clark Classic at Holloway Gym, and this includes a win at No. 9 Stanford last week. Their only loss was by the smallest of margins to Kentucky, and tonight they host undefeated No. 4 Kansas at 7:30 pm.
Kansas comes in having not played any ranked teams yet, but they had close 3-2 matches with Creighton and Arkansas. Last season the Jayhawks were 30-3 and reached the volleyball Final Four where they lost to eventual National Champion Nebraska. Their only other losses were to Texas twice, which decided the Big 12 title.
This is undoubtedly a great test for our Boilers, who are ranked 14th nationally. Purdue hosts Xavier Saturday for the final match of the Stacy Clark Classic, then conference play begins against Illinois next Wednesday. Next Saturday night is also the big Pack Mackey match against Indiana in Mackey Arena after the football game against Nevada.
After the brief respite against IU the Big ten schedule begins in earnest with home matches against No. 6 Wisconsin and No. 3 Minnesota on September 29 and October 1, respectively.