Sept. 20, 2007
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The Big Ten volleyball conference season opened on Wednesday as No. 9 Wisconsin defeated Illinois, 3-1, live on the Big Ten Network. Conference competition gets into full swing this weekend with all 11 squads in action.
Conference Play Opens on Big Ten Network
Wisconsin and Illinois opened the 2007 conference schedule on the Big Ten Network on Wednesday night as the No. 9 Badgers defeated the Illini, 3-1, in Champaign. Wisconsin will also take part in the network's second volleyball broadcast when the squad heads to Michigan to take on the Wolverines at 7 p.m. CT on Saturday. The Big Ten Network is scheduled to air over 20 volleyball matches throughout the course of the season. In addition, ESPN2 is slated to televise three regular-season matches in 2007.
Dominating the Competition
With all 11 conference squads owning winning percentages of .636 or higher, 2007 marks the second consecutive season and just the the second overall since 1998 that all Big Ten teams entered the conference slate with records of .600 or better.
Freshmen Lead the Way in Assists
The Big Ten boasts five of the nation's top 30 assists leaders, including Michigan freshman Lexi Zimmerman who averages 13.63 helpers per game. Freshmen Lauren O'Reily (12.80 pg) of Michigan State and Mara Hilgenberg (12.79 pg) of Indiana rank 22nd and 24th in the country, respectively, while Northwestern newcomer Elyse Glab owns a Big Ten-best 13.91 apg average, but does not meet the NCAA's games-played minimum.
Don Hardin won his 200th match as Illinois' head coach on Saturday as the Illini defeated Toledo, 3-1. With 392 wins in his career, Hardin is eight victories shy of 400. Also on Saturday, Mark Rosen won his 150th match at Michigan as the Wolverines defeated Georgia Tech, 3-2. Penn State's Russ Rose is one win shy of the 900 benchmark. With his next victory he will become just the third Division I coach in history to reach the milestone.
Michigan owns the second-longest unbeaten streak in the nation with a 12-0 record, sitting just behind 13-0 Dayton. The start is the second-best in school history, second only to last season's squad that started 13-0.
Big Ten Poll-ing Place
Three Big Ten teams sit in the nation's top 10 for the second-consecutive week in No. 3 Penn State, No. 9 Wisconsin and No. 10 Michigan. Minnesota follows at No. 12 while Ohio State comes in at No. 23. Purdue is receiving votes outside the top 25.