Aug. 29, 2005
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All 11 Conference Schools in Action This Week
All 11 Big Ten programs will be in action this week, including No. 6 Minnesota, No. 10 Wisconsin and Purdue, which will begin their respective 2005 campaigns. While they will not face each other this weekend, Michigan and Ohio State will each compete against top-ranked Nebraska and No. 24 Long Beach State at the Sports Imports Classic in Columbus, Ohio.
Opening Weekend: Sweeps & Marathons
The Big Ten opened 8-3 in the first official weekend of the 2005 volleyball season. Eight league schools played a total of 11 matches with all of the contests ending in 3-0 sweeps or five-game thrillers. Fifth-ranked Penn State dropped its first match to No. 3 Stanford, the defending national champion, but rebounded to sweep No. 4 Hawaii. Iowa captured its two first matches to claim the Hawkeye-Holiday Inn Challenge title.
Aloha Means Hello and Goodbye
After sweeping Hawaii at the season-opening AVCA/NACWAA College Volleyball Showcase last weekend in Omaha, Neb., Penn State boarded a plane and headed for none other than Honolulu, Hawaii, where the No. 5 Nittany Lions will battle in the Hawaiian Airlines Classic this weekend. After matches against Western Michigan and No. 7 Southern California on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, PSU will face a rematch against Hawaii on Friday.
Omaha "Stakes" Claim of AVCA Attendance Mark
Last weekend's AVCA/NACWAA College Volleyball Showcase drew a tournament record 20,604, for an average of 10,302 fans per night. For the second night in a row, the Showcase drew in excess of 10,000 fans (10,028 on opening night). Saturday's crowd of 10,576 marked the 26th NCAA Division I attendance in excess of 10,000 fans in matches not played in conjunction with another special event such as basketball Midnight Madness.
VanMeter Snags All-Time Big Ten Top-10 Mark
In Illinois' thrilling 3-2 comeback win at intrastate rival Illinois State last weekend, senior Rachel VanMeter posted 39 kills on 79 attempts for a percentage of .342. One of four unanimous selections to the Preseason All-Big Ten Team, VanMeter etched her name in the league record books as her 39 kills ties for 10th all-time with Minnesota's Nicole Branagh (1999) and Ohio State's Vanessa Wouters (1996). VanMeter's 39 kills are the most by any Big Ten player since Ohio State's Stacey Gordon recorded 44 last season.
Four Schools Ranked in Nation's Top 12
Four Big Ten volleyball teams have been selected to the CSTV/AVCA Top 25 Preseason Coaches Poll. Penn State, which garnered one first-place vote, leads the Big Ten contingent at No. 5, followed by No. 6 Minnesota. Wisconsin earned a top-10 ranking as the Badgers are 10th, while Ohio State was tabbed 12th. Illinois and Purdue also received votes in the poll.
The Big Ten and Pac-10 each nabbed three spots in the top 10 of the preseason poll. Overall, the Pac-10 is represented by six teams in the top 19 spots, while all of the Big Ten's four representatives are in the top 12.
In Her Defense...
Minnesota's Paula Gentil returns for her senior season as the three-time defending Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. The Golden Gopher libero shattered a number of records for digs last year, including the NCAA and Big Ten single-season mark of 924. She also topped the league charts with 47 digs in a single match, a 6.70 digs per game average and a 6.81 dpg mark for conference matches only. With one season remaining, Gentil has a league-record 2,154 digs for her career -- 223 more than second place.