The Big Ten women’s volleyball conference had a massive influx of talent in 2023, with some of the most talented high school prospects in the United States and also from overseas making the decision to join programs in the strongest National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) division.
Five freshmen making an impact on their teams
These newcomers immediately became key pieces for their programs in the Big Ten
Published 03:52, 31 Oct 2023
With 12 matches completed by each team in conference play and several more before that in their non-conference calendars, it’s easy to see that some of these players wasted no time showing their abilities and earning a big role in their teams.
Here are five freshmen who have been absolutely vital to their programs:
Harper Murray (Nebraska)
Murray was probably the main product of a strong recruiting effort made by the Cornhuskers, who added five of the most talented freshmen in the country. The outside hitter has been not only a starter, but a pillar for Nebraska since day one and is one of just four players to be on the court in each of the 73 sets the team played so far in the season. Murray, who won the Big Ten Freshman of the Week award three times already in the season, ranks second in kills (246) and aces (19) with the Cornhuskers and has been a consistent point-scorer for them.
Chloe Chicoine (Purdue)
If there’s a freshman who came to the Big Ten this season with more hype than Murray, that was certainly Chicoine, who’s proving to be a difference-maker for Purdue. She got to Indiana already with some international experience, having won back-to-back golds in the U21 Pan-American Cup, and proved she was ready to lead the team as she’s been doing with 321 kills, 22 aces and 166 digs. Chicoine was selected as the Big Ten Freshman of the Week on four occasions and is the only freshman to have earned a Big Ten Player of Week award in the season so far.
Ramsey Gary (Indiana)
A skilled libero, Gary has brought some much-needed defensive stability to Indiana with her arrival. A starter since day one, she’s one of just two players to have been on the court in each of the 91 sets played by the Hoosiers so far and is easily their best defensive player, having tallied 400 digs already – she’s currently on a run of six straight matches with 20+ digs and set a new record for freshman in the program with 26 digs in a single match. Gary, who was given the Big Ten Freshman of the Week award once, also proved to be a good fit with Indiana’s playing style, contributing 20 aces.
Bergen Reilly (Nebraska)
Another member of the talented group of freshmen that landed in Nebraska, Reilly has immediately become the team’s starting setter and has been on the court in each of the 73 sets played by the Cornhuskers so far. She played against some of the top talent in the NORCECA region in 2022, during the Pan American Cup Final Six, and helped the USA take silver. With Nebraska, Reilly averages more than ten assists per set to a total of 768 and has also been productive on defense, with 181 digs. She was picked as the Big Ten Freshman of the Week twice and earned the Big Ten Setter of the Week award three times.
Eva Rohrbach (Maryland)
The best blocking team in the Big Ten, Maryland were probably the perfect landing spot for Rohrbach, a player who thrives at the net and has only gotten better since she started working with the Terrapins. Present in 83 of the 87 sets played by the team, she’s been leading Maryland in blocks with 97 and has also been an important offensive weapon for them with 138 kills.
These five freshmen and all other talented Big Ten players will be in action this week, in the seventh week of conference play, which starts on Wednesday and will have 14 matches between then and Sunday. Two of them will be streamed live for VBTV subscribers around the world – Ohio State vs. Indiana, on Saturday, at 19:00 local time (23:00 UTC), and Purdue vs. Penn State, on Sunday, at 13:00 local time (17:00 UTC).