Defending NCAA Champion Penn State Named Preseason Favorite for Big Ten Title

Penn State's Nicole Fawcett was named a unanimous selection to the Preseason All-Big Ten team. Her Nittany Lions were tabbed to finish first in the conference in 2008.

Penn State's Nicole Fawcett was named a unanimous selection to the Preseason All-Big Ten team. Her Nittany Lions were tabbed to finish first in the conference in 2008.

Aug. 14, 2008

PARK RIDGE, Ill. – Five-time defending Big Ten Champion and defending NCAA Champion Penn State was tabbed by the conference coaches as the preseason favorite for the 2008 season, the conference office announced on Thursday. The distinction marks the fourth consecutive time the Nittany Lions have topped the preseason chart.

Minnesota, which finished tied for third in 2007 and Wisconsin, which ended the 2007 season in second, were picked to finish second and third, respectively, in 2008. The top three teams in the preseason poll combined for nine total selections in the 12-member Preseason All-Big Ten team, led by the Nittany Lions’ five honorees.

Penn State is coming off the program’s second NCAA title, 11th Big Ten crown and just the seventh undefeated season in conference history, finishing the Big Ten slate 20-0 with an overall mark of 34-2. Leading the Nittany Lions as they look to defend their titles are Preseason All-Big Ten selections senior outside hitter Nicole Fawcett, junior setter Alisha Glass, senior middle hitter Christa Harmotto, junior outside hitter Megan Hodge and sophomore middle hitter Arielle Wilson. Harmotto is the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year, while Wilson was the 2007 conference Freshman of the Year. Fawcett, Harmotto and Hodge were first-team All-America selections a year ago, while Glass was a second-team honoree. Fawcett and Hodge are unanimous selections to the Preseason All-Big Ten team, while Fawcett and Harmotto are three-time honorees, and Hodge earns the distinction for the second time.

Minnesota finished the 2007 season tied with Purdue for third in the conference standings, owning an 11-9 record in Big Ten play. The Golden Gophers advanced to the NCAA Championship for the 13th time in program history and finished the campaign with an 18-13 overall record. Minnesota will be led by middle blocker Lauren Gibbemeyer and outside hitter Brook Dieter, who were both selected to the Preseason All-Conference team. Both were members of last year’s Big Ten All-Freshman squad.


 

 

Picked to finish third in the Big Ten in 2008, Wisconsin ended the 2007 season with the No. 14 position in the final national poll. The Badgers made their 12th NCAA Championship appearance and concluded the campaign with a 17-3 mark in conference play and a 26-5 overall record. Wisconsin boasts two players on the Preseason All-Big Ten team in unanimous selection junior Brittney Dolgner, an outside hitter, and senior Audra Jeffers, an outside hitter and middle blocker. Dolgner earned second-team All-America distinction and All-Big Ten honors last season. Both players are two-time preseason honorees as Dolgner earned the distinction prior to the 2007 season and Jeffers was an honoree in 2006.

Also earning selections to the Preseason All-Big Ten team are Illinois sophomore outside hitter Laura DeBruler, Michigan sophomore setter Lexi Zimmerman and Purdue senior middle blocker Stephanie Lynch, who is a three-time preseason honoree.
 
The 2008 volleyball season begins on Friday, Aug. 29, with all 11 Big Ten teams in action. This year’s campaign will feature vast national exposure for the conference with 23 regular-season matches set to be nationally televised on the Big Ten Network and ESPN2.

The complete Preseason Poll and Preseason All-Big Ten team can be found below.

2008 BIG TEN PRESEASON POLL

 1.  Penn State
 2.  Minnesota
 3.  Wisconsin
 4.  Purdue
 5.  Illinois
 6. Michigan
 7. Northwestern
 8.  Michigan State
 9.  Ohio State
 10. Indiana
 11.  Iowa

 

2008 PRESEASON ALL-BIG TEN VOLLEYBALL TEAM

Name

School

Yr.

Position

Hometown

Laura DeBruler

Illinois

So.

Outside Hitter

Downers Grove, Ill.

Lexi Zimmerman

Michigan

So.

Setter

Barrington, Ill.

Brook Dieter

Minnesota

So.

Outside Hitter

Bloomington, Minn.

Lauren Gibbemeyer

Minnesota

So.

Middle Blocker

St. Paul, Minn.

Nicole Fawcett (3)

Penn State

Sr.

Outside Hitter

Zanesfield, Ohio

Alisha Glass

Penn State

Jr.

Setter

Leland, Mich.

Christa Harmotto (3)

Penn State

Sr.

Middle Hitter

Aliquippa, Pa.

Megan Hodge (2)

Penn State

Jr.

Outside Hitter

Durham, N.C.

Arielle Wilson

Penn State

So.

Middle Hitter

Broadview, Ill.

Stephanie Lynch (3)

Purdue

Sr.

Middle Blocker

New Albany, Ind.

Brittney Dolgner (2)

Wisconsin

Jr.

Outside Hitter

Waupun, Wis.

Audra Jeffers (2)

Wisconsin

Sr.

Middle Blocker/Outside Hitter

Hartland, Wis.


UNANIMOUS SELECTION IN CAPS
(3) Three-time selection
(2)  Two-time selection