Big Ten Volleyball Weekly Release - Sept. 20, 2011
Sept. 20, 2011
First Serve: Conference play gets underway this week, beginning with No. 10 Nebraska hosting No. 5 Penn State on Wednesday, marking the Huskers' first Big Ten match. The defending Big Ten Champion Nittany Lions enter the conference season seeking their ninth consecutive and 13th overall Big Ten title. Illinois boasts the second-most Big Ten titles with four, while Ohio State and Wisconsin each have won three. The 12 conference teams combined for a 29-3 record over the final weekend of regular-season non-conference competition, bringing the Big Ten's non-conference record to 111-23 (.828).
All They Do is Win: The Big Ten boasts three of the seven remaining undefeated teams in the country, with Illinois (11-0), Michigan (12-0) and Purdue (11-0) making it through the non-conference schedule without a loss. The 11-0 record marks the second-best start in Illinois history, while Purdue's 11-0 start is its best since 2005. Michigan went undefeated against non-conference teams for the fourth time in the last five years.
Tourney Roundup: Seven conference teams won tournament crowns over the weekend, with eight Big Ten players earning Most Valuable Player honors and 28 players receiving All-Tournament Team accolades. Earning MVP honors were Illinois' Michelle Bartsch (Big Ten/Big East Challenge), Iowa's Mallory Husz (Columbia Invitational), Michigan's Lexi Erwin (Michigan/adidas Invitational), Michigan State's Jenilee Rathje (Spartan Invitational), Minnesota's Ashley Wittman (Marquette Challenge), Northwestern's Stephanie Holthus (Wildcat Classic), Ohio State's Mari Hole (Sports Imports Classic) and Penn State's Katie Slay (Hampton Inn Classic).
Where We Rank: Big Ten volleyball again leads all conferences with seven ranked teams in the latest AVCA Division I Coaches Poll, including four top-10 squads. Illinois stands at No. 3 again this week, while No. 5 Penn State, No. 9 Minnesota and No. 10 Nebraska each maintain their rankings from last week. Purdue moves up one spot to No. 13, while Michigan remains at No. 18, and Ohio State climbs one spot to No. 24 in this week's poll.
Statistically Speaking: Big Ten players again decorate the NCAA's top 10 in various statistical categories. Three of the country's individual top 10 in assists per set hail from Big Ten teams as Minnesota's Mia Tabberson (12.03) holds fourth, Illinois' Annie Luhrsen (11.98) stands in sixth and Michigan's Lexi Dannemiller (11.90) ranks seventh nationally. Northwestern's Stephanie Holthus is fifth in the country in kills per set (5.05) while Michigan State's Alexis Mathews ranks ninth in blocks per set (1.53). In the team rankings, Michigan leads the nation in kills per set (15.1) and is third in assists per set (13.9). Michigan State leads the country in hitting percentage (.334) and is third in kills per set (14.87).
Don't Touch That Dial: Big Ten volleyball will be featured prominently on BTN and ESPN2 this season, with 29 matches receiving national coverage. BTN will provide coverage for 26 matches, including 17 live broadcasts. Numerous matches will also be streamed live online at www.BTN.com.
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 here and features notes, links to articles, previews, recaps and more. Keep track of Big Ten volleyball by following the conference on Twitter @BigTenConf and @B1GVolleyball, and become a fan of the Big Ten Conference on Facebook.