Seven Big Ten Volleyball Teams Earn Spots on National Preseason Poll
Aug. 19, 2008
PARK RIDGE, Ill. – Seven Big Ten volleyball squads are either ranked or receiving votes in the CBS College Sports Network/AVCA Division I Coaches Top 25 Preseason Poll, the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) announced on Tuesday. Defending NCAA Champion Penn State opens the 2008 campaign ranked No. 1 overall, marking the first time since 1999 and the third time overall that the Nittany Lions have opened a season with the top national billing.
Also ranked in the top 25, Wisconsin comes in at No. 13, Minnesota is ranked No. 16 and Purdue opens the season at No. 25. Illinois, Michigan and Michigan State are each receiving votes outside the top 25. The Big Ten is tied for second with the Pac-10 with seven teams either ranked or receiving votes. Only the Big 12 claims more with eight squads on the list.
Penn State is coming off its second NCAA title as well as its fifth consecutive and 11th overall conference championship. The Nittany Lions were selected by the Big Ten coaches to finish first in the conference again in 2008 and welcome back three All-Americans from a year ago, including 2007 Big Ten Player of the Year Christa Harmotto, as well as Nicole Fawcett and Megan Hodge. The Nittany Lions return nine letterwinners and all seven starters from last year’s title squad.
Wisconsin made its 12th consecutive trip to the NCAA Championship in 2007 and finished the season ranked No. 14 in the nation. After a runner-up finish in the Big Ten last season, the Badgers were picked to finish third in 2008 and are led by Preseason All-Big Ten selections Brittney Dolgner and Audra Jeffers. Dolgner was a second-team All-American last year.
Minnesota made its 13th overall NCAA Championship appearance last season and was unranked in the final national poll. The Golden Gophers were selected to finish second in the 2008 Big Ten preseason poll and return Preseason All-Big Ten selections Brook Dieter and Lauren Gibbemeyer. Both were named to the Big Ten’s All-Freshman team last season.
Purdue advanced to its fourth straight and 11th overall NCAA Championship in 2007 and received votes in the final national poll. The Boilermakers, who were picked to finish fourth in the Big Ten in 2008, are led by senior Stephanie Lynch, who is a member of the Preseason All-Big Ten team and a two-time All-Big Ten honoree.
Michigan and Michigan State each advanced to regionals of the 2007 NCAA Championship and ended the season ranked Nos. 19 and 20, respectively, in the national poll. The NCAA appearance marked the Wolverines’ seventh in the last nine years and the second straight for the Spartans. Illinois is looking for its first NCAA appearance since 2004 behind the attack of sophomore Laura DeBruler, a Preseason All-Big Ten team member.
The 2008 Big Ten volleyball season opens on Friday, Aug. 29, with all 11 conference teams in action. The opening weekend of play will feature plenty of challenges as Big Ten teams will combine to take on 15 programs that are either ranked or receiving votes in the preseason poll. Among those, two squads take on more than one ranked team as Illinois hosts No. 11 Oregon and No. 23 New Mexico State in the Illini Classic, and Penn State plays No. 12 Hawaii, No. 6 UCLA and Ohio (receiving votes) in the Hawaiian Airlines Classic.
Big Ten volleyball will enjoy vast exposure in 2008 with 23 matches set to be aired on national television, including 20 on the Big Ten Network. For more information and the complete volleyball TV schedule, visit www.bigten.org.
CBS College Sports Network/AVCA Division I Coaches Top 25 Poll
Others Receiving Votes and appearing on two or more ballots: St. John's 180; MICHIGAN 177; Pepperdine 113; Dayton 98; MICHIGAN STATE 80; Louisville 66; Santa Clara 65; Ohio 62; Texas A&M 55; Utah 45; ILLINOIS 44; Missouri 42; Tulane 38; Arizona 31; Duke 18; Kentucky 16; Oklahoma 15; Wichita State 14; Georgia Tech 8; Western Kentucky 6
Nine schools were listed on only one ballot for a total of 23 points.