Penn State Tabbed Preseason Favorite by Big Ten Volleyball Coaches
Aug. 17, 2006
PARK RIDGE, Ill. - Three-time defending Big Ten champion Penn State has been voted for the second-consecutive season by the conference coaches as the preseason favorite for the upcoming Big Ten volleyball season, it was announced Thursday by the conference office. Wisconsin, last year's Big Ten runner-up, was tabbed second, followed by Minnesota at the No. 3 position. The conference coaches also selected a 12-member Preseason All-Big Ten team, which is led in representation by the Nittany Lions, Golden Gophers and Ohio State with three selections each.
The Nittany Lions, ranked second in the CSTV/AVCA National Preseason Coaches Poll, are coming off a perfect 20-0 conference season and a 31-3 overall record. Penn State enters the 2006 season with experience in senior Cassy Salyer and junior Melissa Walbridge, as well as a solid young core in sophomore standouts Nicole Fawcett and Christa Harmotto. Fawcett, who was tabbed the conference's Freshman of the Year last season, and Harmotto, a member of the Big Ten's All-Freshman Team, are the lone unanimous preseason selections and are joined by Walbridge on the 12-member team.
Wisconsin, ranked ninth nationally after a 26-7 (15-5 Big Ten) season last year, boasts one Preseason All-Big Ten selection in sophomore outside hitter Audra Jeffers, but returns key components to the Badgers in senior Maria Calini and juniors Jackie Simpson, Jocelyn Wack and Taylor Reineke, a middle blocker tabbed All-Big Ten in 2005.
The Golden Gophers, selected third by the coaches, enter the season ranked 22nd after a 25-8 season, including a third-place finish with Ohio State at 14-6 in conference play. Minnesota seniors Kelly Bowman and Meredith Nelson each earned their second-straight selections to the Preseason All-Big Ten team, while first-time honoree Jessy Jones, a junior middle blocker, was also tabbed by the coaches.
Ohio State's Marisa Main and Ami Stevens also earned their second-straight preseason nod and welcomed fellow honoree and teammate Danielle Meyer, who along with Main was a member of the 2005 All-Big Ten team.
Rounding out the preseason squad is Michigan State junior outside hitter Katie Johnson and Purdue sophomore middle blocker Stephanie Lynch. Both Johnson and Lynch were honorable mention All-Big Ten selections in 2005, while Lynch was also named to the Big Ten's All-Freshman Team.
The 2006 season kicks off on August 25-26 with the AVCA College Volleyball Showcase in Madison, Wis. Three of the top-10 preseason teams, No. 3 Washington, No. 8 Texas and the ninth-ranked Badgers will be joined by No. 15 Ohio University at this year's event.
The complete 2006 Big Ten Volleyball Preseason Poll and Preseason All-Big Ten Team follows.
2006 BIG TEN PRESEASON POLL
1. Penn State
2006 PRESEASON ALL-BIG TEN VOLLEYBALL TEAM
UNANIMOUS SELECTION IN CAPS