Jan. 7, 2014
Rosemont, Ill. -
Attached you will find the final Big Ten volleyball weekly release of the 2013 season, complete with updated standings, statistics, news and notes from around the conference.
First Serve: Big Ten volleyball saw a record-setting 2013 season come to a close at the NCAA Championships in Seattle on Dec. 21. Second-seeded Penn State defeated 12th-seeded Wisconsin, 3-1, in the tournament finale, earning its sixth national title and fifth in the last seven years. With the Nittany Lions and Badgers both in the championship match, it marked the first time two Big Ten teams battled for the national crown. A record-tying eight Big Ten squads competed in the NCAA Tournament, with seven advancing to the Sweet 16, which is a record among all conferences. Seven Big Ten teams ended the 2013 season ranked in the top 16 of the final AVCA coaches’ poll.
Champions x2: With its 3-1 win over No. 12 Wisconsin in the NCAA Championship match, No. 2 Penn State earned its fifth national title in the last seven years and sixth overall, tying Stanford for the most in NCAA history. The Nittany Lions lost only four sets in their six postseason matches. Along with the national championship, Penn State won its 16th Big Ten title and 10th in the last 11 years. The Nittany Lions finished with a 19-1 conference mark and 34-2 overall record, ending their campaign on a 25-match win streak.
A NCAA Tournament to Remember: It was an historic NCAA Championship for the Big Ten, as a conference record-tying eight teams earned berths in the field (Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin). Seven of those squads advanced to the Sweet 16, which was an NCAA record for one conference, and Penn State and Wisconsin participated in the national title match, the first time two Big Ten teams faced off in the tournament finale. The Big Ten ended the tournament with a 23-7 record, breaking the all-time victory total for the conference of 19 wins set in 2010 and 2012.
Where We Rank: Eight Big Ten volleyball teams were ranked or received votes in the final AVCA Division I Coaches poll of the 2013 season, including seven in the top 16, the most among all conferences. The Big Ten 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.
Breaking Down the Poll: Throughout the 2013 season, 10 of the conference’s 12 teams were ranked or received votes in the AVCA Coaches’ poll, while seven Big Ten squads appeared in the top 10 at least once during the year. At one point in the season, nine Big Ten teams were ranked in the poll, the first time a conference had nine squads appear in the top 25 in the poll’s 21-year history. Penn State ended the year as the nation’s No. 1 ranked team, the 10th time a Big Ten school claimed the top spot at the conclusion of the season.
Coach ‘Em Up: In his 35th season at the helm of Penn State, head coach Russ Rose was selected as the 2013 AVCA Division I Coach of the Year. The award marked the fifth time that Rose has been honored as the national coach of the year, having also 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 and won their 16th Big Ten Championship. Rose also picked up both Big Ten and AVCA Northeast Region Coach of the Year honors this year.
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 (Tori Dixon, Minnesota; Kelsey Robinson, Nebraska; Micha Hancock and Ariel Scott, Penn State). Additionally, 31 players earned 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 took 12 of the 14 spots on the Northeast Region squad. The full list of national award winners can be found on Page 3.
Head of the CLASS: Penn State right side hitter Ariel Scott was selected as the 2013 NCAA Division I volleyball Senior CLASS Award winner, given to the most outstanding senior student-athlete in the sport. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - classroom, community, character and competition. Michigan’s Jennifer Cross and Michigan State’s Lauren Wicinski also earned second-team Senior CLASS Award honors.
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. Slay, a communications sciences and disorders major, was a first-team selection, while Kelsay, a psychology major, was named to the third team. 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.
Top-25 Tilts: During the conference season, 49 of the 120 matches featured two teams in the top 25 (41 percent). Sixty-seven of the 120 tilts (56 percent) featured two squads ranked or receiving votes in the national poll. During Big Ten play, nine of the 12 squads went through stretches of playing at least five straight matches against teams ranked or receiving votes in the top 25, including Michigan and Nebraska, who played eight in a row.
Home Sweet Home: Big Ten volleyball teams continue to attract fans by the thousands, as the conference led the nation in attendance for the seventh year in a row. Eight Big Ten teams finished the 2013 season ranked in the national top 20 in average attendance, with five conference teams in the top 10. Nebraska owns the highest attendance average in the country at 8,175, while Minnesota and Wisconsin ranked third (3,942) and fifth (3,512), respectively. Illinois was ninth (3,117), followed by Penn State in 10th (2,952) and Michigan State in 11th (2,891). Purdue checked in at No. 16 (2,532), while Ohio State was No. 19 (2,063).