Team-by-team breakdown, analysis of the 2023 Big Ten volleyball schedule


Biggest matches? Who got a break? The toughest stretches?

The Big Ten has finally released its league volleyball schedule. Some Big Ten members had already unveiled their non-conference slates, but we now know who each team will play this season.

The Big Ten’s 10-week, 20-match schedule begins in late September and wraps  Thanksgiving weekend. The Big Ten made the schedules fairly even: No team will play more than three of the top six finishers from last season (Minnesota, Nebraska, Penn State, Purdue, Ohio State, Wisconsin) in home-and-home series.

Before breaking down each team’s schedule, first a look at the five most intriguing B1G matches:

No. 1: Nebraska at Wisconsin, Nov. 24
These two teams have finished at the top of the league in three of the last four seasons (the exception came in 2020 when the Huskers finished third by half a game). Wisconsin has won each league title during that span, but the margin has been thin. This matchup is in the last week of a season in which the Badgers are loaded up for a fifth straight title and NU goes for its first since 2017.

No. 2: Minnesota at Wisconsin, Oct. 29
Unfortunately, these two border rivals only play once. when the Gophers will travel to Madison for a Sunday-afternoon matchup. They split last year, with Minnesota earning a sweep in Minneapolis and Wisconsin taking a four-set victory on its home court. Carter Booth, who earned All-Big Ten honors with Minnesota last year, will be on the opposite side of the net this year.

No. 3: Penn State at Ohio State, Nov. 24
This is the season finale for Penn State and will also be the return of former Ohio State setter Mac Podraza to Columbus. By then, the Nittany Lions should have time to integrate all of the transfers into the system and could be in contention for a league title. The Buckeyes went with a youth movement and lost a handful of fifth-year players to the transfer portal, but Emily Londot and OSU will be looking forward to facing off against Podraza.

No. 4: Nebraska at Purdue, Sept. 29
This one is a battle of the young guns. The Boilermakers feature the reigning freshman of the year in Eva Hudson and one of the top recruits in the country in outside hitter Chloe Chicoine, plus Nebraska native Grace Heaney. The Huskers will likely play several freshmen in its top-rated recruiting class, including No. 1 prospect Harper Murray. Fellow freshmen setter Bergen Reilly, middle blocker Andi Jackson and defensive specialist Laney Choboy will also be in the mix.

No. 5: Wisconsin at Northwestern, Sept. 22
The Badgers’ Big Ten opener will be a homecoming for Temi Thomas-Ailara, who spent the first four years of her career with the Wildcats. Northwestern will also look different, losing most of its top players from a year ago. But they will feature players familiar with the Badgers in middle blocker Ellie Husemann (a transfer from Minnesota) and outside hitter Maddy Chinn (Purdue).


Double plays: Indiana, Iowa, Northwestern, Purdue, Ohio State, Rutgers, Wisconsin
Single home: Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State
Single away: Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska
Toughest stretch: Oct. 4 at Purdue, Oct. 7 vs Wisconsin, Oct. 13 at Ohio State
Non-conference: The Illini play just three non-conference home matches but only leave their home state twice, barely both times. They will play twice in South Bend, Indiana, against Notre Dame and Oklahoma, and then go to West Lafayette, Indiana, to play UCF and Southern Cal. They also have matches at DeKalb, Ill., Peoria, Ill., and Chicago lined up.
Big Ten notes: Illinois has one of the better schedules, playing Minnesota, Nebraska and Penn State once. But five of Illinois’ final seven matches are on the road.


Double plays: Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio State, Purdue, Rutgers, Wisconsin
Single home: Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska
Single away: Michigan State, Northwestern, Penn State
Toughest stretch: Sept. 24 at Wisconsin, Sept. 29 vs Iowa, Sept. 30 vs Nebraska, Oct. 6 at Penn State
Non-conference: The Hoosiers travel to California for the Long Beach Invitational, where they will take on The Beach, UCLA and Washington.
Big Ten notes: After a balanced travel schedule to start, Indiana hits the road on back-to-back weekends, making a trip through Illinois and then traveling to Rutgers and Ohio State. The Hoosiers stay at home for consecutive weeks before spending the final weekend on the road for the Michigan double dip.


Double plays: Illinois, Maryland, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Penn State, Wisconsin
Single home: Nebraska, Ohio State, Rutgers
Single away: Indiana, Michigan, Purdue
Toughest stretch: Oct. 4 vs Wisconsin, Oct. 7 at Purdue, Oct. 13 vs Penn State
Non-conference: We don’t know all of the Hawkeyes’ early schedule, but of what is available, they Nevada at Sacramento State. They will also host tournaments with South Dakota State, Kent State and Middle Tennesee; and Central Michigan, Missouri St and Grand Canyon.
Big Ten notes: In addition to facing Wisconsin, Purdue and Penn State during nine days, the Hawkeyes close the season at Minnesota, home against Nebraska at Northwestern and at Wisconsin. It will be a rough go for Iowa as they try to build upon the four league wins from a year ago, two of which came in their final two matches.


Double plays: Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio State, Rutgers, Purdue, Wisconsin
Single home: Illinois, Minnesota, Penn State
Single away: Nebraska, Northwestern, Michigan State
Toughest stretch: Nov. 10 vs Wisconsin, Nov. 12 vs Ohio State, Nov. 17 at Indiana, Nov. 18 at Purdue, Nov. 22 vs Penn State
Non-conference: Not yet released
Big Ten notes: The Terrapins never have more than two consecutive home matches during the conference schedule. They will travel back-to-back weekends to Nebraska/Iowa and then to Michigan State/Michigan.


Double plays: Indiana, Maryland, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Penn State
Single home: Iowa, Ohio State, Purdue
Single away: Illinois, Rutgers, Wisconsin
Toughest stretch: Sept. 29 at Minnesota, Oct. 1 at Wisconsin, Oct. 6 vs Northwestern, Oct. 7 vs Nebraska; Oct. 11 vs Minnesota
Non-conference: North Carolina and Duke come to Ann Arbor as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The Wolverines will also wrap up the first portion of their schedule with a home-and-home against Bowling Green.
Big Ten notes: New coach Erin Virtue’s first Big Ten match will come against rival Michigan State at home. After going to Maryland, she gets to partake in one of the most challenging road trips in the country by playing at Minnesota and Wisconsin. Michigan has four straight road games in mid-November before closing the regular season by playing host to Purdue and Indiana.

Michigan State

Double plays: Iowa, Penn State, Michigan, Purdue, Nebraska, Rutgers, Northwestern
Single home: Indiana, Maryland, Wisconsin
Single away: Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio State
Toughest stretch: Oct. 22 at Minnesota, Oct. 27 vs Wisconsin, Oct. 28 vs Penn State
Non-conference: The Spartans start the year at Arkansas before playing host to Duke and North Carolina. MSU also named one of its non-conference tournaments after retired AVCA executive director Kathy DeBoer. She played volleyball and basketball for the Spartans before graduating in 1978.
Big Ten notes: Michigan State starts with three road games before entertaining Rutgers. Michigan State only has to play Minnesota and Wisconsin once but it’s during the same week.


Double plays: Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Purdue, Rutgers
Single home: Illinois, Michigan State, Penn State
Single away: Indiana, Maryland, Wisconsin
Toughest stretch: Oct. 26 at Purdue, Oct. 29 at Wisconsin, Nov. 3 at Ohio State, Nov. 5 at Northwestern
Non-conference: The Gophers have a challenging start. All nine non-conference opponents played in the NCAA tournament last year. The most brutal battles will be at home against defending national champion Texas on Aug. 29 and playing at Stanford where it plays Stanford and Oregon.
Big Ten notes: Minnesota won’t get a chance to host the Badgers this year after sweeping Wisconsin on its home court last year. The toughest stretch will be back-to-back weeks where the Gophers play Purdue, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Northwestern. They are at home for the final week for just the third time during the last 12 years. For that matter, Minnesota will spend the final two weeks in their own beds.


Double plays: Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern, Penn State, Rutgers, Wisconsin
Single home: Illinois, Maryland, Ohio State
Single away: Indiana, Iowa, Purdue
Toughest stretch: Nov. 24 at Wisconsin; Nov. 25 at Minnesota
Non-conference: While matches against Creighton, Stanford and Kentucky should provide the most demanding tests, the biggest attraction is the Huskers’ Aug. 30 match with Omaha, which will be played in Memorial Stadium. Nebraska has sold more than 90,000 tickets, and it could set the largest crowd ever for a women’s sporting event.
Big Ten notes: The Huskers’ schedule starts with a bang and finishes with one, too. They are home for Ohio State, Minnesota and travel to Purdue to begin Big Ten play. Then, Nebraska closes by playing at Wisconsin and at Minnesota.


Double plays: Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Penn State
Single home: Indiana, Maryland, Wisconsin
Single away: Ohio State, Purdue, Rutgers
Toughest stretch: Nov. 1 at Illinois, Nov. 5 vs Minnesota, Nov. 8 at Nebraska
Non-conference: The Wildcats haven’t posted their schedule yet, but they play at Milwaukee at Northeastern while also playing Northern Colorado and UIC.
Big Ten notes: The Wildcats start at home against Wisconsin and Penn State. They also face a tough stretch to start November with five of six road matches. That stretch includes back-to-back weekends of visiting the league’s western outpost in Nebraska and then going east to Rutgers and Maryland.

Ohio State

Double plays: Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Penn State, Rutgers, Wisconsin
Single home: Michigan State, Northwestern, Purdue
Single away: Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska
Toughest stretch: Oct. 7 at Penn State, Oct. 13 vs Illinois, Oct. 15 vs Purdue, Oct. 18 at Wisconsin
Non-conference: Ohio State has a rigorous start and plays host to Georgia Tech on the second weekend. Then along with Minnesota, the Buckeyes will participate in the Big Ten/Pac-12 challenge at Stanford where it plays Stanford and Oregon in early September. The Buckeyes wrap up the first part of the season with a trip through Texas and play at the defending champion Longhorns and Baylor.
Big Ten notes: Ohio State knocks out two single-play opponents during the first weekend by traveling to Nebraska and Iowa. The Buckeyes have a balanced travel schedule as they rotate home and away for the first five weeks. Their longest stretch of home/away matches is three, both in November.

Penn State

Double plays: Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Purdue
Single home: Indiana, Rutgers, Wisconsin
Single away: Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota
Toughest stretch: Nov. 3 vs Nebraska, Nov. 5 at Purdue, Nov. 10 vs Michigan, Nov. 11 vs Wisconsin
Non-conference: The Nittany Lions start with a bang by facing Florida and Georgia Tech during the first weekend at Amalie Arena, the site of this year’s NCAA Championship in Tampa. PSU’s chemistry will be tested right out of the gate with a transfer-heavy roster. PSU also travels to Louisville on Sept. 10.
Big Ten notes: Penn State will put on the miles this season as they only play their nearest geographical conference foes once. They travel to Northwestern, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska during the first four weeks of league play. They get a break with only single matches against Wisconsin and Minnesota.


Double plays: Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan State, Minnesota, Penn State, Wisconsin
Single home: Iowa, Nebraska, Northwestern
Single away: Michigan, Ohio State, Rutgers
Toughest stretch: Oct. 22 at Penn State, Oct. 26 vs Minnesota, Oct. 28 at Illinois, Nov. 1 at Wisconsin, Nov. 5 vs Penn State, Nov. 10 at Minnesota
Non-conference: The Boilermakers are home for all but two matches during the early part of the season as they travel to Kansas to play the Jayhawks and Marquette. Their best could be the first weekend when Purdue is home for Creighton.
Big Ten notes: The Boilermakers have an odd quirk in their schedule as they face several of their double plays nearby. They will play Indiana on consecutive Wednesdays in October. They face Penn State and Minnesota four days apart in late October and then face off again two weeks later. Purdue plays Wisconsin twice in 16 days and closes the season with Michigan State 13 days after their first meeting.


Double plays: Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio State,
Single home: Michigan, Northwestern, Purdue
Single away: Iowa, Penn State, Wisconsin
Toughest stretch: Oct. 13 at Wisconsin, Oct. 15 at Illinois, Oct. 20 at Minnesota
Non-conference: The Scarlet Knights have one of the easier non-conference slates. The only major opponents they will play are NC State and possibly Virginia, depending on how they fare against North Carolina A&T.
Big Ten notes: Rutgers also seems to have a favorable schedule, playing Wisconsin and Penn State once each. They will double up against Minnesota, Nebraska and Ohio State. Rutgers has quick turnarounds against Minnesota (13 days), Illinois (7 days), Nebraska (8 days) and Indiana (7 days).


Double plays: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Nebraska, Ohio State, Purdue
Single home: Michigan, Minnesota, Rutgers
Single away: Michigan State, Northwestern, Penn State
Toughest stretch: Nov. 11 at Penn State; No. 17 at Purdue; Nov. 18 at Indiana; Nov. 24 vs Nebraska
Non-conference: The Badgers play Marquette at Fiserv Forum in September but will travel to SEC country for solid road tests. Wisconsin plays two matches at Arkansas and then makes a return trip to Florida after the Gators knocked off the Badgers at the Kohl Center last year in front of a regular-season record crowd.
Big Ten notes: The Badgers only play Minnesota once and only travel to Penn State. Wisconsin got some scheduling fortune as it travels to Nebraska for its only match that weekend and then only has to deal with Iowa after playing host to Nebraska on Nov. 24.

See the complete Big Ten schedule here.

Action at Purdue’s Holloway Gymnasium

Team-by-team breakdown, analysis of the 2023 Big Ten volleyball schedule Volleyballmag.com.

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