As we dive in to the heart of the B1G volleyball season, I thought I’d take a minute and break down (quick and dirty) why this is the toughest conference in the country.
As of this writing, there are eight of the twelve B1G teams ranked in the top 25 in the AVCA Coaches Poll with a ninth appearing on more than two ballots. Four of those teams are in the top ten (#4 Penn State, #5 Michigan State, #8 Nebraska, and #10 Minnesota). Even with the loss last week in East Lansing, the Huskers moved up in the rankings.
The most well-known is Minnesota head coach Hugh McCutcheon, who lead the US Men’s team to gold in Beijing, and the women’s team to Silver in London. However, Russ Rose at Penn State won four consecutive (2007-2010) that included two undefeated seasons, and Coach Cook at Nebraska won titles in 2000, and 2006.
Great 18U Clubs:
Sports Performance in Chicago is one of the best known clubs in the country, turning out D1 players annually, and many want to stay close to home. While this is, admittedly, not necessarily based on stats, when coaching at national club tournaments, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Illinois have a lot of good clubs, and those are the heart of B1G country.
The Rolfzen Twins and Justine Wong-Orantes at Nebraska, Lauren Carlini at Wisconsin, Caleigh Ryan and Northwestern, and Abby Cole at Michigan all came and and were expected to contribute. Almost every team in conference expects their freshman to play, and play a lot. That leads to experience in the big games, and high expectations.
There are other great conferences, the PAC-12 and and even the Big XII are up there, but no conference shows the dominance of the B1G. It’s always a gauntlet in the regular season, and that’s the reason that any of the B1G teams that make the 64 team tournament need to be seen as threats to win it all, every season.