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Wednesday, Feb. 21
The Indiana Daily Student

sports volleyball

Nebraska adds another powerhouse to competitive Big Ten conference

The Big Ten conference might not get any easier for the IU volleyball team next year with the addition of Nebraska.

In early June, Nebraska announced it would join the Big Ten in all sports beginning
in 2011.

The No. 3 Cornhuskers (12-1) are currently the best team in the Big 12 conference.

“Obviously when you add the No. 3 team in the nation, it’s going to make it a tougher conference,” IU coach Sherry Dunbar said.

Nebraska would add another powerhouse to the conference.

“We already have Penn State, Illinois and both the Michigan teams, and it’s going to make it tougher,” sophomore setter Whitney Granado said.

Freshman defensive specialist Melanie Hicks agreed.

“It’s going to bring more popularity and make the competition even better,” Hicks said.

Last year the Cornhuskers reached the Elite Eight along with three Big Ten teams — Penn State, Minnesota and Michigan.

In addition, Nebraska’s 32 All-Americans lead NCAA Division I volleyball.

Five Big Ten teams are currently in the Bison/AVCA top-25, and two more have received votes. The Big Ten’s five ranked teams trail only the Pac-10’s six.

However, Dunbar believes the Big Ten is an all-around tougher conference than the Pac-10.

“I just feel like top-to-bottom, the Big Ten is probably stronger,” she said. “The Pac-10 is very top-heavy.”

Hicks agreed.

“I’ve personally always thought that the Big Ten was more solid all-around,” Hicks said.

Sophomore outside hitter Jordan Haverly, who was named to the 2009 Big Ten All-Freshman team, originally committed to Nebraska in 2008 before leaving and ultimately joining the Hoosiers.

The Big Ten is strong even without Nebraska.

No. 4 Penn State suffered its first loss in 109 matches to current No. 1 Stanford on Sept. 11. The No. 7 Fighting Illini handed the Nittany Lions their other defeat.

The addition of Nebraska will change the Big Ten travel plans as well as the round-robin format in which teams play each of their fellow conference members twice.

“It will change our travel, our schedule because we are still going to stick with 20 matches like we have now,” Dunbar said.

Granado added the addition of Nebraska might change the conference dynamic and could make it that much tougher on each team to come ready every match.

“Within the Big Ten, there is a lot of depth, and it just depends on who’s showing up that match to who’s going to win,” she said.

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