The only change in the top 11 of this week’s AVCA Coaches Poll involved Nebraska.
After taking down Penn State in five sets on Saturday, the Huskers (18-3) swapped spots with their rival as Nebraska moved up to No. 7 and the Nittany Lions (17-4) dropping to No. 8.
A strong defensive showing as a team last week led to individual recognition as freshman libero Kenzie Knuckles was named Big Ten co-Defensive Player of the Week. The 5-foot-8 freshman from Yorktown, Indiana, averaged 5.0 digs per set in Nebraska’s wins over Rutgers and Penn State.
Against the Scarlet Knights, Knuckles put up 16 digs in three sets as the Huskers held Rutgers to .099 hitting. She followed that up with a career-high 24 digs in five sets against the Nittany Lions as Nebraska held them to a conference-low .166 hitting percentage.
Knuckles shared the honor with Wisconsin senior libero Tiffany Clark. The award was her second weekly honor this season as she was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week after week one. Knuckles is Nebraska’s first Defensive Player of the Week since Lauren Stivrins was recognized on Nov. 26, 2018.
Texas (16-2) remains atop the poll with 47 first-place votes. Pittsburgh (23-1) is second with 14 votes. No. 3 Baylor (19-1), No. 4 Wisconsin (16-4) and No. 5 Stanford (16-4) each received one first-place vote. The Golden Gophers of Minnesota (17-3) came in at No. 6.
Purdue (15-6) moved up one spot to No. 15 while Illinois dropped two spots to No. 21 after splitting the weekend against the Michigan teams in Champaign, falling to Michigan in four sets on Friday before rebounding to sweep Michigan State on Saturday. The Wolverines were the second team among others receiving votes with 52 points after getting 13 points last week.
Creighton (19-3) held at No. 9, 101 points behind the Nittany Lions. UCLA (13-8) has come on strong in recent weeks and is up to No. 23 after entering the poll at No. 25 last week. San Diego is just outside the top 25 at No. 26, 15 points ahead of Michigan.
Through six weeks, the Badgers remain as the lone team unbeaten in conference play at 12-0. The Gophers are one game back at 11-1 while the Huskers and Nittany Lions are both 10-2.
This week, the Huskers will see two of the bottom four teams in the conference with Northwestern (10-14, 1-11) on Wednesday and Iowa (9-14, 3-9) on Saturday.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.