For the Nebraska volleyball team in 2019, the start and the finish of the Big Ten Conference season will bring a lot of intrigue.
The volleyball program released its full season schedule, which includes 29 regular season matches, on Thursday morning.
When conference play begins at the end of September, the Huskers will play their first match against Illinois and former NU assistant coach Chris Tamas. That will be a rematch from the national semifinals last season, when Nebraska rallied to win in five sets. That match will be on Sept. 27 in Champaign, Illinois. Nebraska will play at Northwestern the next night.
Then in the second to last week of the regular season, Nebraska will once again face the great challenge of playing matches on back-to-back nights on the road against Minnesota and Wisconsin, two teams that are often ranked in the top 10. That’s a road trip that could have a big factor in the race for the conference championship. Nebraska went 0-for-2 on that same road trip last season.
Nebraska will then play its final two regular season matches at home, against Maryland and Ohio State on Nov. 29 and Nov. 30.
Penn State has been one of the Huskers’ biggest rivals since joining the Big Ten Conference, but Nebraska and Penn State will only play once this season, on Nov. 2 in Lincoln. Nebraska will also only play defending league champion Minnesota once.
The seven teams Nebraska will play twice each in league play are Wisconsin, Purdue, Maryland, Iowa, Northwestern, Michigan State and Rutgers.
Nebraska will play single matches against Minnesota, Illinois, Penn State, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio State.
Last season Nebraska finished in third place in the Big Ten with a 15-5 record.
The details of the nonconference schedule are also now official. Here is how the four weeks of the nonconference season will look:
* On the very first day of the college season, Nebraska will host Creighton at the Devaney Sports Center. Creighton has never beaten the Huskers, but came awfully close last season in Omaha. Creighton and Nebraska will play again in Omaha in 2020. On the second day of the season, Nebraska will host UCLA.
* During the second week of the season, Nebraska will travel to San Diego to play Arizona and San Diego. Nebraska coach John Cook likes to travel to a player’s hometown when they can, and Lexi Sun is from near San Diego.
* In the third week of the season, Nebraska will host a tournament and play matches against High Point, Denver and Loyola Marymount, with each of those teams making the NCAA Tournament last season.
* Nebraska will start off the final week of the nonconference schedule with a monster Wednesday night match against Stanford on Sept. 18 in Lincoln. The Cardinal beat Nebraska in five sets in the 2018 national championship and returns almost all of its team. This will be the start of Nebraska and Stanford playing during the regular season for at least five consecutive years. Nebraska will then finish the nonconference season by hosting Wichita State on Sept. 21.
The annual Red-White scrimmage will be held on Aug. 24 at the Devaney Sports Center. The start time will be determined at a later date.