Understanding the Big 10 Conference: A Comprehensive Guide to One of College Sports’ Most Influential Leagues

The Big Ten Volleyball Conference is one of the premier collegiate volleyball leagues in the United States. It consists of 14 universities, all of which are part of the Big Ten Conference, a larger athletic conference that sponsors various sports. The Big Ten Volleyball Conference is known for its high level of competition, strong teams, and a history of success both in regular season play and in the NCAA tournament.

History and Formation

So now, what is the Big 10 conference? The Big Ten Conference was established in 1896, making it the oldest Division I collegiate athletic conference in the United States. While volleyball wasn’t part of the original sports lineup, it has grown significantly since being added. Women’s volleyball in the Big Ten started to gain prominence in the late 20th century as more universities began to invest in the sport, recognizing its popularity and the athletic opportunities it provided for women.

These schools are spread across the Midwest and Northeast, making the Big Ten one of the most geographically diverse conferences. Each school has its own volleyball program, facilities, and fan base, contributing to the competitive environment of the conference.

Competition and Season Structure

The Big Ten volleyball season typically runs from late August to early December. During this period, teams compete in both non-conference and conference matches. Non-conference matches usually take place at the beginning of the season and serve as a way for teams to prepare for the rigorous conference schedule. The conference matches are particularly intense as teams vie for the Big Ten title and a better seeding in the NCAA tournament.

Teams play each other in a double round-robin format, meaning each team faces every other team twice – once at home and once away. This format ensures fair competition and allows teams to prove themselves consistently over the season. The regular season champion is determined by the best win-loss record in conference play.

Strength and National Recognition

The Big Ten Volleyball Conference is often regarded as one of the strongest volleyball conferences in the nation. Teams from the Big Ten frequently rank high in national polls, and the conference is well-represented in the NCAA tournament each year. For example, schools like Penn State, Nebraska, and Wisconsin have consistently been powerhouses in the sport, winning multiple national championships and producing numerous All-Americans.

Penn State, in particular, has a storied history in volleyball. Under the leadership of long-time head coach Russ Rose, the Nittany Lions have won several national titles and have been a dominant force in both the Big Ten and national stages. Similarly, Nebraska has a rich volleyball tradition with multiple national championships and a dedicated fan base that regularly fills its large volleyball arena.

Player Development and Coaching

The Big Ten is known for developing top-tier volleyball talent. Many players who excel in the Big Ten go on to play professionally, either in the United States or overseas, and some even compete in the Olympics. The high level of competition in the Big Ten helps players improve their skills, gain valuable experience, and prepare for the next level of their careers.

Coaching in the Big Ten is also top-notch. The conference attracts some of the best coaches in the sport, who are adept at recruiting talented players and building strong, cohesive teams. These coaches emphasize not only athletic performance but also academic success and personal development, preparing their players for life beyond volleyball.

Fan Support and Atmosphere

Volleyball in the Big Ten is not just a sport; it’s an experience. The fan support for Big Ten volleyball is remarkable, with many schools drawing large crowds to their matches. For instance, Nebraska’s home matches at the Devaney Center often sell out, creating a vibrant and intimidating atmosphere for visiting teams. The energy and enthusiasm of the fans add to the excitement of Big Ten volleyball, making matches thrilling for players and spectators alike.


The Big Ten Volleyball Conference stands out as a leader in collegiate volleyball, known for its competitive teams, strong tradition, and passionate fan base. From its rigorous season structure to its history of national success, the Big Ten provides a platform for athletes to excel and for fans to enjoy some of the best volleyball in the country. Whether you’re a player, a coach, or a fan, the Big Ten Volleyball Conference offers something special for everyone involved.

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