Sept. 11, 2012
First Serve: Big Ten volleyball heads into the final week of non-conference competition with five teams hosting invitationals, while the remaining seven squads hit the road. Michigan State sits atop the standings at 9-0, followed by Nebraska and Northwestern at 8-0, the lone Big Ten teams with undefeated records. Through three weeks of play, Big Ten teams have racked up 87 wins against non-conference foes, including nine against top-25 opponents.
Tourney Roundup: Six Big Ten teams took home tournament titles last weekend, with five conference players garnering Most Valuable Player honors and 19 others earning All-Tournament Team accolades. Michigan State’s Lauren Wicinski (Auto-Owners Insurance Spartan Invitational), Nebraska’s Hannah Werth (Ameritas Players Challenge), Northwestern’s Stephanie Holthus (Yale Invitational), Ohio State’s Mari Hole (Western Kentucky Tournament) and Wisconsin’s Julie Mikaelsen (InnTowner Invitational) each earned MVP honors over the weekend.
Where We Rank: The latest AVCA Division I Coaches’ Poll features seven Big Ten volleyball teams, giving it the most top-25 squads of any conference in the country. Nebraska remains at No. 1 for the third consecutive week, followed by No. 4 Penn State and No. 10 Minnesota. Purdue checks in at No. 14, while Ohio State jumps back into the poll at No. 21. Michigan sits at No. 22, and Illinois is No. 23. Michigan State and Northwestern are also receiving votes.
Statistically Speaking: The Big Ten is well-represented among the national leaders in numerous statistical categories. Michigan State’s Lauren Wicinski is first in the country in aces per set (.87), while Penn State’s Micha Hancock in third (.71) and Minnesota’s Daly Santana is fourth (.71). Wicinski is also among the leaders in points and kills per set, ranking third (5.88) and eighth (4.67), respectively. Minnesota’s Tori Dixon is first in the country in hitting percentage (.541), while Nebraska’s Meghan Haggerty is second (.539) and Michigan State’s Alexis Mathews is ninth (.460). Indiana’s Samantha Thrower is ranked seventh in blocks per set (1.59) and Penn State’s Katie Slay is eighth (1.56), while Northwestern’s Madalyn Shalter is seventh in assists per set (12.10). In the team rankings, Minnesota leads the country in hitting percentage, ranks second in assists per set and third in kills. Michigan State is second is aces per set and hitting percentage, while ranking fourth in kills per set. Nebraska cracks the top 10 in hitting percentage (seventh), kills per set (eighth) and assists (ninth).
We’ve Got You Covered: Now there are more ways than ever to follow Big Ten volleyball. The Big Ten volleyball blog can be accessed directly at www.bigten.org/blog/volleyball and will feature daily notes, links to articles, previews, recaps and more. You can also keep track of Big Ten volleyball in real-time by following the conference on Twitter @BigTenConf and @B1GVolleyball or become a fan of the Big Ten Conference on Facebook and receive exclusive updates at facebook.com/BigTenConference.