2013 Big Ten Volleyball Season In Review

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Big Ten volleyball saw a record-setting 2013 season come to a close at the NCAA Championships in Seattle as Penn State and Wisconsin participated in the championship match, the first time two Big Ten teams faced off in the national final. The Nittany Lions won their fifth national title in the last seven years and sixth overall, tying Stanford for the most in NCAA history.

NCAA Bound:
The Big Ten sent a conference record-tying eight teams to the NCAA Championship, with five earning top-16 seeds. Big Ten Champion Penn State entered the tournament as the No. 2 overall seed, while No. 8 Nebraska, No. 10 Minnesota, No. 12 Wisconsin and No. 13 Illinois each earned top-16 seeds. Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue also received bids to the tournament. Big Ten teams compiled a 23-7 record in this year's tournament, breaking the all-time win total for the conference of 19 set in 2010 and 2012. Additionally, seven Big Ten squads advanced to the Sweet 16, the most by any conference in tournament history.  For a look back at the entire NCAA Championship, visit the Championship Central page HERE.

Nationally Noticed:
Thirteen Big Ten volleyball players were selected as AVCA Division I All-Americans, the most of any conference, with four players earning first-team status. Minnesota's Tori Dixon, Nebraska's Kelsey Robinson, and Penn State's Micha Hancock and Ariel Scott earned first-team honors, while Michigan State's Lauren Wicinski, Minnesota's Ashley Wittman, Penn State's Deja McClendon and Wisconsin's Lauren Carlini were named to the second team. Illinois' Jocelynn Birks, Michigan State's Kori Moster, Nebraska's Kadie Rolfzen, Penn State's Katie Slay and Purdue's Val Nichol earned third-team honors. Thirteen others received honorable mention recognition -- Illinois' Jennifer Beltran, Michigan's Jennifer Cross, Lexi Dannemiller and Molly Toon, Michigan State's Alexis Mathews, Minnesota's Adrianna Nora, Nebraska's Meghan Haggerty and Mary Pollmiller, Northwestern's Stephanie Holthus, Ohio State's Kaitlyn Leary, Penn State's Nia Grant, Purdue's KiKi Jones and Wisconsin's Ellen Chapman. For the complete release, click HERE.

Off The Court Honors: Seniors Kristen Kelsay of Michigan State and Katie Slay of Penn State earned Capital One Academic All-America honors, with Slay being named Capital One Academic All-America of the Year, the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) announced on Dec. 12. Slay, a communications sciences and disorders major was a first-team selection, while Kelsay, a psychology major, was named to the third team. The pair of Academic All-Americans marks the third consecutive year that two conference standouts have earned the accolade. Additionally, Penn State's Maddie Harding was the recipient of the NCAA's Elite 89 Award, given to the individual who has reached the pinnacle of competition at the national championship level in his or her sport, while also achieving the highest academic standard among his or her peers. For more on Academic All-America honors, click HERE. For the Elite 89 Award, click HERE.

Head of the CLASS: Penn State right side hitter, Ariel Scott was selected as the 2013 Senior CLASS Award winner in NCAA Division I volleyball. The award, chosen by a nationwide vote of Division I volleyball coaches, national volleyball media and fans, is given annually to the most outstanding senior student-athlete in Division I volleyball. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - classroom, community, character and competition. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. Two other Big Ten student-athletes earned Senior Class Award recognition, as Michigan's Jennifer Cross and Michigan State's Lauren Wicinski were named to the award's second team. For more on the Senior CLASS Award, click HERE.

Coach 'Em Up: In his 35th season at the helm of the Penn State women's volleyball team, head coach Russ Rose was selected as the 2013 AVCA Division I Coach of the Year. The award is the fifth time Rose has been honored as the national coach of the year during his tenure at Penn State, having earned the award in 1990, 1997, 2007 and 2008. Rose guided the 2013 squad to its fifth national title in the last seven years and a 34-2 overall record, ending the season on a 25-match win streak. In conference play the Nittany Lions posted a 19-1 mark, good for PSU's 16th Big Ten Championship in program history. Rose picked up both Big Ten and AVCA Northeast Region Coach of the Year honors this year. For more on Coach Rose's honor, click HERE.

Regional Recognition: Big Ten volleyball standouts collected numerous AVCA Division I Regional Awards on Tuesday, with 31 players earning All-Region honors. In their respective regions, head coaches Hugh McCutcheon of Minnesota (North) and Russ Rose of Penn State (Northeast) took home Coach of the Year accolades, while Nebraska's Kadie Rolfzen (North) and Wisconsin's Lauren Carlini (Northeast) won Freshman of the Year awards. Big Ten student-athletes made up the entire North Region team and included Michigan's Jennifer Cross, Lexi Dannemiller and Molly Toon, Michigan State's Alexis Mathews, Kori Moster and Lauren Wicinski, Minnesota's Tori Dixon, Adrianna Nora and Ashley Wittman, Nebraska's Meghan Haggerty, Mary Pollmiller, Kelsey Robinson and Kadie Rolfzen and Northwestern's Stephanie Holthus. Northeast Region honorees were Illinois' Jennifer Beltran and Jocelynn Birks, Ohio State's Kaitlyn Leary, Penn State's Nia Grant, Micha Hancock, Deja McClendon, Ariel Scott and Katie Slay, Purdue's KiKi Jones and Val Nichol and Wisconsin's Lauren Carlini and Ellen Chapman. The Illini's Liz McMahon, Huskers' Cecilia Hall, Wildcats' Caleigh Ryan and Boilermakers' Carly Cramer and Catherine Rebarchak earned honorable mention recognition. For more on the regional award winners, click HERE.

Familiar Big Ten Title Territory: With a 3-0 win over Ohio State in the final week of the regular season, Penn State earned the outright 2013 Big Ten Volleyball Championship. The crown marked the 10th in the last 11 years and 16th overall for the Nittany Lions. Penn State ended the regular season with a 19-1 record in Big Ten play and 28-2 overall mark and earned the conference's automatic berth to the NCAA Championship. Click HERE for more on Penn State's Big Ten Championship.

Taking Home the Hardware: The Big Ten announced its postseason volleyball awards on Dec. 3, with student-athletes from four schools earning recognition following the conclusion of the 2013 regular season. Nebraska's Kelsey Robinson was named the Big Ten Player of the Year, while Michigan State's Kori Moster and Wisconsin's Lauren Carlini were tabbed Defensive Player and Freshman of the Year, respectively. Penn State's Micha Hancock earned Setter of the Year honors, while Nittany Lion head coach Russ Rose was tabbed Coach of the Year by Big Ten coaches and media. For the full All-Big Ten teams, click HERE.

And The Academic Awards Go To: Following the conclusion of the fall season, the Big Ten recognized a total of 869 fall sports student-athletes who had been named to the Academic All-Conference team, which included 75 volleyball players. To be eligible for Academic All-Big Ten selection, student-athletes must be letterwinners who are in at least their second academic year at their institution and carry a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or higher. At least 20 student-athletes maintained unblemished cumulative GPAs, including volleyball players Maggie Halloran of Michigan State, Maggie Harding of Penn State and Faye Adelaja of Purdue. For the complete Academic All-Big Ten release, click HERE.

Where We Rank: Eight Big Ten volleyball teams were ranked or receiving votes in the final AVCA Division I Coaches poll of the 2013 season, which was released on Dec. 23. The conference boasted the nation's top two teams and five squads in the top 10. NCAA and Big Ten Champion Penn State led the way at No. 1 and national runner-up Wisconsin was ranked No. 2. Nebraska checked in at No. 7, followed by No. 8 Purdue, No. 10 Minnesota, No. 14 Michigan State and No. 16 Illinois. Michigan was receiving votes. For the complete poll, click HERE.

Statistically Speaking: Numerous Big Ten standouts appeared among the top 25 of the final NCAA statistical leaders of 2013, including five in the top 10. Penn State's Micha Hancock was second in the nation in aces per set, while teammate Katie Slay was third in blocks per set. Ohio State's Kaitlyn Leary ranked fourth in kills per set. In points per set, Michigan State's Lauren Wicinski was ninth, while Leary was 10th. For the complete statistical breakdowns, click HERE.

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