No. 5 Minnesota Opens 2004 Big Ten Volleyball Season
Aug. 25, 2004
Gophers Kicking Things Off
Preseason Rankings "Golden" For Gophers
Minnesota's Gentil Digs Her Way to the Top
Milestones to "Kill" For
This One's For You Coach
Conference Teams Hard at Work Prior to Labor Day
BIG TEN VOLLEYBALL BITS
The Illinois volleyball team, fresh off its ninth Sweet 16 appearance, opens play Sept. 1 at home against Illinois State. Illinois has also received national recognition as the No. 19 team in the country. Led by Honorable Mention All-American Erin Virtue, the Illini will look to improve on their 26-7 record from a year ago, in which they tied for second at 15-5 in the League.
Indiana begins its 2004 campaign at IUPUI on Sept. 1, with hopes of building off last year's mark of 12-19. The Hoosiers, who return a pair of starters and seven letterwinners while welcoming six newcomers, will be led by seniors Christina Archibald and Katie Pollom. Two of the top players in the League, Archibald will be a key offensive performer, while Pollom will solidify the defense in the middle.
This season will mark new beginnings for Iowa on Sept. 3, as one of the nation's top coaches takes over a Hawkeye program that finished 6-24 last year. Cindy Fredrick, who spent the last 15 years at Washington State and was an assistant at Iowa from 1982-85, begins her 20th overall season with 364 career wins to her credit. Iowa will be led by seniors Pam Kavadas, Carolyn Giese and Laura Simpson.
After advancing to its fourth NCAA Tournament in the last five seasons, Michigan enters 2004 on the heels of its best finish in Conference play since 1997. The Wolverines finished fifth in the Big Ten last year with a 12-8 mark and were 21-12 overall. Despite losing its first-ever All-American in Erin Moore, Michigan returns six players from the 2003 squad. U-M will open play at Valparaiso on Sept. 1.
Michigan State welcomes back four starters and seven letterwinners from the 2003 squad that finished 19-12 overall and 11-9 in the Big Ten, good for sixth place. The Spartans are led by senior outside hitter Kim Schram, who was one of three players voted as unanimous First Team Preseason All-Big Ten selections. Schram and the Spartans open play at home against Ohio on Sept. 3.
Minnesota is coming off a 2003 season that saw it advance to the first Final Four in school history. The Golden Gophers finished 26-11 overall and tied for second in the Big Ten with a 15-5 record. Minnesota has finished second or higher in Conference play four of the last five seasons. The Gophers return six starters from last year's historic run and are the lone Big Ten team to play this weekend.
After appearing in back-to-back NCAA Tournaments, Northwestern enters 2004 looking to improve on last year's 18-15 season -- its best finish in six years. The Wildcats open at the Florida Gator Invitational, home of last year's NCAA national runner-up and NU head coach Keylor Chan's alma mater. The `Cats will be led by senior setter Drew Robertson and junior outside hitter Christie Gardner.
Ohio State finished 11-17 (5-15) last year and was led by three-time first team All-Big Ten selection, Stacey Gordon. One of only three unanimous First Team Preseason All-Big Ten selections, Gordon is Ohio State's all-time career leader in kills with 1,956. She will look to extend her double-figure kills streak to 77 matches when the Buckeyes open at home against Dayton on Sept. 1.
Penn State finished 31-5 overall in 2003 and 17-3 in the Big Ten, good for their seventh Big Ten title since joining the league for the 1991 season. Led by Sam Tortorello, a unanimous Preseason All-Big Ten selection, as well as Ashley Pederson and 2003 Big Ten Freshman of the Year Cassy Salyer, PSU opens the 2004 slate on Sept. 3, against Rutgers when head coach Russ Rose goes for career win No. 800.
On Sept. 1, Purdue will kick off its 2004 season at home against Butler. The Boilermakers return all seven starters from a squad that went 14-17 last year. Sophomore setter Renata Dargan, who has compiled nearly 3,000 assists in her two-year Boilermaker career (11.5 apg), represented Purdue as one of 12 League players named to the Preseason All-Big Ten team.
After finishing fourth in the 2003 Big Ten race with a 13-7 record, Wisconsin has been picked by League coaches to finish third in the Conference this season. The Badgers are led by 2004 Preseason All-Big Ten selection Jill Odenthal. The senior right-side hitter was the Badgers' kill leader in 11 matches last year. UW, which was 22-11 overall in 2003, opens the year Sept. 3-4, hosting some of the nation's top teams in the Badger Challenge.