Volleyball Coaches Select Penn State as Preseason Conference Favorite

Laura DeBruler and the Illini were voted to finish second in 2010 by the Big Ten coaches.

Laura DeBruler and the Illini were voted to finish second in 2010 by the Big Ten coaches.

Aug. 12, 2010

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Park Ridge, Ill. – Seven-time defending conference champion and winner of the last three NCAA titles, Penn State was voted as the conference favorite for the 2010 season as voted on by the Big Ten coaches, the conference office announced on Thursday. It is the sixth straight season the Nittany Lions have topped the coaches’ preseason conference poll.

Illinois and Minnesota, who finished second and third, respectively, in 2009, were voted to finish in the same fashion this season. Ohio State was selected fourth overall in the coaches’ poll, while Michigan finished fifth, and Michigan State was tabbed sixth in the voting. This year’s top six teams combined to produce 14 of the 16-member Preseason All-Big Ten Team.

The Nittany Lions capped the 2009 campaign with a victory over Texas in the national championship match, finishing undefeated for the second season in a row and becoming the first Division I team to win three consecutive national titles. Penn State returns six starters and 11 letterwinners from a year ago and looks to extend its 102-match winning streak, which ranks second among all sports in the NCAA. Among his returning standouts, head coach Russ Rose welcomes back two unanimous Preseason All-Big Ten Team members in 2010 in Blair Brown and Arielle Wilson, who also earned All-Big Ten honors in 2009. Brown and Wilson are joined by Alyssa D’Errico on the 2010 Preseason All-Big Ten list.

Finishing second in the conference with a 16-4 mark, Illinois returns three All-Big Ten members from 2009, including unanimous 2010 Preseason All-Big Ten selection Laura DeBruler. She is joined by teammates Johannah Bangert, Michelle Bartsch and Hillary Haen on the Preseason All-Big Ten Team. The Illini advanced to the Sweet 16 last season, and finished in the top 10 in the final American Volleyball Coaches Association poll, Illinois was voted to finish second in the Big Ten in 2010 and eyes its first conference championship since 1992.

Minnesota, which finished third in the conference last season at 15-5, returns three student-athletes that are on the Preseason All-Big Ten Team. The Gophers, who were voted to finish third in the Big Ten in 2010 by the conference coaches, advanced to the Final Four of last year’s NCAA Championship, joining Penn State in the national semifinals. The Gophers are headlined by 2009 All-American Lauren Gibbemeyer, who joins teammates Tabitha Love and Hailey Cowles on the 2010 Preseason All-Big Ten Team.

Other members of the 2010 Preseason All-Big Ten Team include Indiana’s Ashley Benson, Michigan’s Lexi Zimmerman and Alex Hunt, Michigan State’s Kyndra Abron, Northwestern’s Sabel Moffett and Ohio State’s Katie Dull.

The complete Preseason Poll and Preseason All-Big Ten Team can be found through the PDF at the top of the page.