By Lincoln Arneal
If Nebraska wants to end Wisconsin’s fourth-year reign atop the Big Ten volleyball world, the Huskers will likely have to do it on the Badgers’ home court.
With the season set to begin in just 72 days, the Huskers finally know their path to seek their first league title since 2017 as the conference released the 10-week, 20-match schedules for all 14 teams Wednesday.
For the third straight year, the Big Ten Conference scheduled NU and Wisconsin for a final week meeting. The two programs will play on Friday, Nov. 24. The next night, the Huskers will close the regular season at Minnesota.
In league play, Nebraska will face Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Penn State and Rutgers twice.
Illinois, Maryland and Ohio State will travel to Lincoln for their only meeting with the Huskers, while NU will go to Indiana, Iowa and Purdue for single plays.
Nebraska only plays multiple matches one weekend during the first month as it opens with three matches during the first three days of the season. The Huskers kick off the 2023 campaign with Utah State, an NCAA qualifier a year ago, and follow with Lipscomb and SMU. Utah State is coached by Rob Neilson, who was an assistant coach at BYU when Huskers assistant Jaylen Reyes played for the Cougars.
Several local products will return to their home state during the first weekend. Lincoln East graduate Brooklyn Fuchs will come back with Lipscomb, while Evan Glad, a Millard West product, is a freshman at SMU. Casey Batenhorst, the younger sister of NU junior Ally Batenhorst, also plays for the Mustangs.
NU plays three other 2022 NCAA tournament teams in the nonconference. The Huskers will host Creighton at the Devaney Center for the first time since 2019. Nebraska will also host Kentucky and travels to Stanford.
While those three teams will represent the toughest early tests, the marquee matchup might be hosting Omaha in Memorial Stadium on Aug. 30, with an anticipated crowd of more than 91,000.
Tyler Hildebrand will return to the Devaney Center for the second year. The former NU associate head coach will bring Long Beach State to Lincoln on Sept. 9.
The nonconference season features a road match on Sept. 3 at Kansas State, which will be the first time the Huskers have played in Manhattan since 2010.
The Huskers begin league play with home matches against Ohio State and Minnesota. NU will spend the next two weekends on the road with pairs of games in Indiana (Purdue and Indiana) and Michigan (Michigan State and Michigan). Five of the next six matches will be at the Devaney Center with a quick midweek trip to Northwestern in between.
November starts with an East Coast trip to play Penn State and Rutgers before three more home matches.
NU plays four Big Ten matches on Sunday: Minnesota (Sept. 24), at Rutgers (Nov. 5) and Illinois (Nov. 12) and at Iowa (Nov. 19); and just twice on Wednesdays with both matches against Northwestern (away on Oct. 18 and home on Nov. 8).
Match times were not announced for league games but will be once television schedules are finalized.
The 2023 Husker volleyball schedule
Aug 25 (Fri) 6:00 p.m. Utah State Devaney Center
Aug 26 (Sat) 5:00 p.m. Lipscomb Devaney Center
Aug 27 (Sun) 2:00 p.m. SMU Devaney Center
Aug 30 (Wed) 7:00 p.m. Omaha (Memorial Stadium
Sep 3 (Sun) 4:00 p.m. at Kansas State Manhattan, Kan.
Sep 6 (Wed) 7:00 p.m. Creighton Devaney Center
Sep 9 (Sat) TBD Long Beach State Devaney Center
Sep 12 (Tue) TBD at Stanford Stanford, Calif.
Sep 17 (Sun) TBD Kentucky Devaney Center
Sep 22 (Fri) TBD Ohio State Devaney Center
Sep 24 (Sun) TBD Minnesota Devaney Center
Sep 29 (Fri) TBD at Purdue West Lafayette, Ind.
Sep 30 (Sat) TBD at Indiana Bloomington, Ind.
Oct 6 (Fri) TBD at Michigan State East Lansing, Mich.
Oct 7 (Sat) TBD at Michigan Ann Arbor, Mich.
Oct 13 (Fri) TBD Michigan State Devaney Center
Oct 14 (Sat) TBD Penn State Devaney Center
Oct 18 (Wed) TBD at Northwestern Evanston, Ill.
Oct 21 (Sat) TBD Wisconsin Devaney Center
Oct 27 (Fri) TBD Maryland Devaney Center
Oct 28 (Sat) TBD Rutgers Devaney Center
Nov 3 (Fri) TBD at Penn State University Park, Pa.
Nov 5 (Sun) TBD at Rutgers Piscataway, N.J.
Nov 8 (Wed) TBD Northwestern Devaney Center
Nov 12 (Sun) TBD Illinois Devaney Center
Nov 17 (Fri) TBD Michigan Devaney Center
Nov 19 (Sun) TBD at Iowa Iowa City, Iowa
Nov 24 (Fri) TBD at Wisconsin Madison, Wisc.
Nov 25 (Sat) TBD at Minnesota Minneapolis, Minn.