Big Ten Volleyball Season in Review
Jan. 4, 2007
The 2006 Big Ten volleyball season closed with the conference establishing a 12-7 record in the NCAA Championship, after sending a nation's best seven league teams to the postseason tournament.
Penn State, just one of three teams to have competed in all 26 NCAA Championships, led all Big Ten teams with a 32-3 record and claimed its fourth-straight outright conference title for the first time in conference history.
In addition, Penn State's Megan Hodge was named the AVCA National Freshman of the Year, marking the second consecutive season that the accolade has gone to a Nittany Lion. Nicole Fawcett picked up the school's first-ever honor in 2005. It also marks the first time since the AVCA began honoring the Division I National Freshman of the Year in 2001 that one school has captured back-to-back awards. Hodge was also the Big Ten's Freshman and Player of the Year, marking the first time in the conference's 23-year history a freshman has claimed the Big Ten's top honor.
First team stars Hodge and Fawcett led a host of seven Big Ten standouts who earned All-America honors in 2006. Ohio State's Danielle Meyer, a third team All-America selection, was also named a second team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American. Meyer also joined four other conference players that were named to the NCAA Regional All-Tournament team.
With Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin advancing to regional play in the 2006 NCAA Championship, it marked the first time in conference history the Big Ten had five teams compete in the field of 16.
In addition to Hodge, Minnesota's Malama Peniata was tabbed the conference's Defensive Player of the Year, while Penn State's Russ Rose and Wisconsin's Pete Waite split Coach of the Year accolades.
NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP IN REVIEW
Five Big Ten student-athletes earned NCAA Regional All-Tournament honors in 2006. In the Seattle Region, Ohio State's Danielle Meyer and Penn State's Nicole Fawcett and Megan Hodge were honored, while Meredith Nelson and Kyla Roehrig were honored in the Gainesville Regional.
The 2006 season marked the first time in Big Ten history that the conference had five teams (MINN, OSU, PSU, PUR, WIS) reach the regional semifinals. Four Big Ten squads advanced in (ILL, MSU, OSU, PSU), 1996 (MSU, OSU, PSU, WIS), 2000 (MINN, OSU, PSU, WIS) and 2004 (MINN, OSU, PSU, WIS).
In the 2006 NCAA Tournament, Ohio State, Penn State and Purdue were slotted in the Seattle Regional, which marked the first time in conference history three Big Ten squads had ever advanced to the regional semifinals in the same region. It was only the fourth time since the NCAA Championship field expanded from 32 teams in 1993 that a conference has had three or more teams advance to the same regional.
Three Big Ten teams -- No. 3 Penn State, No. 11 Ohio State and No. 14 Purdue -- were also among the top 16 teams in the field and were seeded in the Seattle Region. The rarity was just the second time a conference ever had three seeded teams slotted in the same region for the NCAA Championship since the NCAA increased the seeds from eight teams to 16 in 1998. The Pac-10 boasted No. 4 seed Arizona, No. 5 Stanford and No. 12 USC in the Palo Alto (Calif.) Region in the 2005 tournament. However, Arizona was the lone Pac-10 team to advance to regional play in 2005.
The Penn State/Purdue matchup marked the 10th occasion in which two Big Ten teams faced one another in NCAA Championship play. Of the seven teams that have been presented with the matchup over the years, Penn State holds the best record of intraconference NCAA play at 4-1, followed by Illinois (2-1), Wisconsin (2-1), Minnesota (1-1), Ohio State (1-4), Michigan State (0-1) and Purdue (0-1).
Of the 10 NCAA Championship matchups involving two Big Ten teams, six occurred in regional semifinal action and one in the regional final. Four of those seven winners advanced to the national semifinals, including Ohio State (national semifinalist) in 1991, Penn State (national runner-up) in 1997 and (national champion) in 1999 and Minnesota (national runner-up) in 2004.
Penn State and Purdue squared off in the Seattle Regional semifinal marking the third time the two teams met in 2006. The Nittany Lions took a 3-0 advantage over the Boilermakers in 2006, with all wins coming in 3-0 sweeps.
The Big Ten sent seven conference teams to the NCAA Championship, which tied the Pac-10 and the SEC for the highest conference representation.
The 2006 season marked the sixth time in conference history the Big Ten had seven or more teams selected to the NCAA Championship. The conference sent a record eight teams to the NCAAs in 1999 and 2002 and boasted seven NCAA participants in 1995, 2003 and 2004.
The Big Ten is 52-28 (.650) with seven participants in the tournament. In comparison, the conference is 61-36 (.629) when six teams participate in the tournament and 22-15 (.595) when eight teams advance to postseason play.
The Big Ten holds an overall NCAA Championship record of 190-117 (.619), dating back to 1983. The conference has boasted a combined winning percentage of .600 or higher in 13 of the last 15 years and a .500 or better record in each of the past 16 tournaments. The Big Ten was 12-7 (.632) in 2006.
The Big Ten has recorded 10 or more wins in the past four NCAA Championships, including 2006. In 2005, the conference boasted a 10-6 mark, which was preceded by a league record of 15 wins in 2004 (15-7). The Big Ten posted an 11-7 record in 2003.
Three Big Ten teams -- Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin -- all served as host for first and second round action. This was the third straight year both Penn State and Wisconsin had served as hosts for the first and second rounds.
In 1999, Penn State (36-1) became the lone school in the league to win the NCAA Championship.
Of the seven Big Ten squads that made the 2006 NCAA field, six have an all-time tournament winning percentage of .500 or better, led by Minnesota, which made its 12th appearance with a 24-12 record (.667). Penn State follows at .658 (48-25) over 25 years, while Wisconsin finished its 14th overall tournament with a combined mark of 28-15 (.651). Ohio State's record of 26-17 (.605) spans 15 years, while Purdue is 11-10 (.524) over 10 years. Michigan State ended its 11th appearance with a 12-11 (.522) overall mark and Michigan finished its seventh NCAA Tournament with a record of 6-7 (.462).
Penn State is one of just three teams (Stanford, UC Santa Barbara) to have earned bids to all 26 NCAA Championships.
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