Sept. 27, 2004
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Big Ten Volleyball Set for Full Week of Action
Five out of the seven days this week will feature Big Ten volleyball action, beginning with Notre Dame at Michigan in non-Conference action on Tuesday, September 28, followed by Wisconsin at Northwestern on Wednesday, September 29. A full slate of matches are scheduled for Friday and Saturday, October 1-2, while the week concludes on Sunday, October 3 with Illinois traveling to Madison to face Wisconsin.
No. 1 Minnesota Set to Battle Nationally-Ranked Teams
In what perhaps has been the most anticipated road trip of the year and the biggest test yet for top-ranked Minnesota, the Golden Gophers will face two top-20 Conference teams on the road this weekend. Minnesota travels to No. 16 Ohio State on Friday for a televised match on FSN Chicago, followed by a Saturday matchup at No. 4 Penn State.
When the Gophers meet the Nittany Lions on Saturday, it will mark the highest-ranking matchup in the Big Ten history and only the second time ever that two League teams face off while each is nationally ranked in the top five. The only other time this scenario occurred in Conference history was when No. 4 Ohio State battled No. 5 Penn State on November 29, 1994.
Not since October 19, 2002 have two Big Ten squads taken to the court ranked in the top 10. Ironically, that match was also between Minnesota (9) and Penn State (8).
All Hail The Gophers
Minnesota has claimed the No. 1 spot in the USA Today/CSTV Top 25 poll once again this week. The Golden Gophers are 13-1 and 2-0 in the Big Ten after sweeping Michigan and Michigan State last weekend. This is the third-straight week Minnesota has been ranked No. 1, marking the first time a Big Ten squad has ruled the collegiate volleyball scene in three-consecutive weeks since Penn State in 1999. The Nittany Lions held the No. 1 rank for 11-straight weeks from October 4, 1999 until the final poll of the 1999 season when PSU captured the NCAA title.
Five Big Ten Teams Earn Recognition in Top 25 Poll
Five Big Ten teams have received recognition in the USA Today/CSTV Top 25 poll released September 27. Minnesota leads the nation at No. 1, followed by No. 4 Penn State, No. 16 Ohio State and No. 19 Illinois. Ohio State has improved nearly five spots (25-20-16) each week since entering the poll three weeks ago. Michigan and Purdue also received votes.
Gentil Digs Out Yet Another Record
Minnesota junior libero Paula Gentil broke her own school record with 39 digs (13.0 dpg) against Michigan on September 25, bettering her previous high of 37 against then-No. 1 USC on August 28 in five games. Gentil's school record marked just the first time a League player has recorded 39 or more digs in a match since October 20, 1990. She is now in fourth place on the Big Ten all-time digs list with 1,569 career digs.
Underclassmen Blocking Out the Competition
Seven underclassmen, including three freshmen in the top seven, currently lead the Conference in blocks. Only two juniors and one senior can be found among the top 10 blockers in the League. Wisconsin junior Sheila Shaw leads the Conference with 1.42 blocks per game, but freshman Lyndsay Miller (1.41) and sophomore Megan Bowman (1.37), both of Michigan, are second and third, respectively. Wisconsin freshman Taylor Reineke (1.36) is fourth and Ohio State freshman Danielle Meyer (1.10) is seventh.
Keep Your Eye on the Hawks
Under first-year head coach Cindy Fredrick, the Iowa Hawkeyes have already surpassed their win total from last season and given the Iowa mentor her first career Big Ten win as well. Iowa is 9-4 on the season and 1-1 in the League. The Hawkeyes were just 6-24 (1-19, Big Ten) last season and 8-22 (2-18) in 2002. The nine-win total marks the highest number of victories for the Iowa program since 2000 when the Hawkeyes placed sixth in the Conference with an overall record of 15-13 and 11-9 in League play.
Big Ten Boasts Winning Record Over Top-25 Teams
In the four total weeks of non-conference action, Big Ten teams were a combined 10-5 against top-25 competition. League teams defeated two top-10 teams, including then top-ranked USC (Illinois, 3-2), and posted a record of 7-4 against teams in the top-15. On three occasions, three different Big Ten teams defeated the 12th-ranked team, as Purdue and Wisconsin topped then-No. 12 Georgia Tech the first week of September, while Penn State topped No. 12 Stanford the week after.
Three Big Ten Squads Affected by Hurricane Season
Big Ten teams have never been so happy to move inland for the Conference season. On two occasions during non-conference action, three League squads had scheduling conflicts due to three hurricanes that pounded Florida in September.
Most recently, Michigan State was scheduled to face No. 2 USC at the Gamecock Invitational in South Carolina on September 19, but the Women of Troy backed out due to safety concerns with Hurricane Ivan in the area and Hurricane Jeanne surfacing in the Atlantic.
As the approach of Hurricane Frances threatened the eastern coast of Florida, both Illinois and Northwestern were forced to cancel their previously scheduled volleyball tournaments September 3-4, on the campuses of Miami and Florida, respectively. Both Florida schools cancelled their tournaments on September 1 in anticipation of severe weather. The cancellations forced Illinois to travel to the Hurricane Frances Classic in Oxford, Ohio, while Northwestern quickly organized the NU Labor Day Classic in Evanston.
Illini's Virtue to Miss Remainder of Season
Illinois senior setter Erin Virtue has suffered a tear of her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her right knee, an MRI revealed Wednesday. The Honorable Mention All-American and Preseason All-Big Ten selection will need surgery and will miss the rest of the season. Virtue, who topped the 2,000 assist mark in just one-plus year as Illinois' starter, amassed 424 assists during the 2004 season before suffering the injury late in the Illini's win over Ball State on September 17.
Gophers Say Just Bring It
Minnesota has stormed out to a 13-1 record this season, with four of those games coming against top 20 competition. The Gophers fell to No. 1 USC in a five-game heartbreaker in August, but have captured top-15 wins over No. 4 Florida (3-2), No. 11 Colorado State (3-1), and No. 15 Kansas State (3-2). USC is the two-time defending national champion, while Florida was a national semifinalist along with the Gophers last season. The Gophers will look to improve on their 3-1 record versus top 20 teams when they travel to No. 4 Penn State and No. 20 Ohio State this weekend.
Bowman Brings It During Top-Ranked Competition
Minnesota's Kelly Bowman is one of only two Big Ten players (Lisa Gamalski, MICH, 1) so far this season to record at least one triple-double. The sophomore setter has tallied four triple-doubles this year, with two coming against two of the top four teams in the nation. On August 28, Bowman recorded 17 kills, 18 digs and 40 assists versus No. 1 USC, while on September 11, she recorded 11 kills, 19 kills and 15 assists against No. 4 Florida. On September 17, in Minnesota's first match as the top-ranked team in the nation, Bowman posted 11 kills, 22 digs and 30 assists to help the Gophers survive a 3-2 scare against Rice. Most recently, Bowman delivered 10 kills, 12 digs and 21 assists against Michigan on September 25.
The Conquer of Troy
In front of nearly 3,000 fans in Huff Hall on September 11, then-No. 16 Illinois defeated top-ranked and two-time defending national champion USC, 3-2, ending the longest winning streak in NCAA volleyball history at 52 straight. The Illini topped the Women of Troy 30-24, 24-30, 12-30, 30-27, 15-8, which marked the first time in school history that the Orange and Blue defeated a number one team. Earlier this year, current-No. 1 Minnesota dropped a 3-2 heartbreaker to USC at the NACWAA Tournament.
Ohio State's Gordon Eyes All-Time Big Ten Kill Mark
Ohio State's Stacey Gordon, who set a Big Ten record last season with 6.62 kills per game, has her eyes set on the all-time Big Ten kill record of 2,379, set by Minnesota's Nicole Branagh from 1997-2000.
Currently, the Buckeye senior has 2,227 kills for her career, 152 shy of the record. Gordon, who is averaging 6.95 kills per game through 39 games this season, is on pace to break the mark in approximately 22 games.
Gordon leaped over fifth-place (Debbie McDonald, PUR, 2,108) and into fourth-place all-time in Big Ten history, surpassing Minnesota's Andrea Gonzalez's mark of 2,140. Gordon recorded 85 kills in the first week of play this season to surpass the 2,000 plateau, making her one of only seven players in League history to have surpassed 2,000 kills.
Others in League Stalking Gordon's Mark
Several other Big Ten student-athletes have their sights set on individual marks for kills this season as well. Indiana's Christina Archibald surpassed the 1,500-kill plateau September 18 and now stands at 1,582 for her career. Minnesota's Erin Martin (1,394) and Michigan's Jennifer Gandolph (1,347) are also quickly approaching the 1,500-kill mark.
Gordon Named AVCA National Player of the Week
After earning her 12th career Big Ten Player of the Week honor September 13, Ohio State's Stacey Gordon was honored by the AVCA as the National Player of the Week. It was Gordon's second career weekly honor by the AVCA.
Gordon Extends Double-Figure Streak for Kills
Ohio State's Stacey Gordon has extended her double-figure kill streak to 88 after tallying double-digit totals in each of her two matches last weekend. Against Wisconsin on September 24, Gordon registered 27 kills to mark her 100th match match with double-figure kills. She now has double-figure kills in 101 of her 103 career matches.
Big Ten Ranks Among Nation's Best
As of September 19, the Big Ten boasted several of its teams and student-athletes at or near the top of the NCAA statistical rankings. Ohio State's Stacey Gordon leads the nation in kills per game (7.00), while teammate Marisa Main is first in the country in assists per game (14.94). In team categories, Ohio State leads the nation in assists per game (16.85) followed by top-ranked Minnesota (16.28). In the same category, Purdue ranks eighth and Penn State is 10th. OSU also holds the nation's best mark in hitting percentage (.348) and kills per game (18.18).
OSU's Stone Reaches No. 500
Ohio State head coach Jim Stone captured his 500th career win September 17 when his Buckeyes defeated Northeastern, 3-1. The win ranks him fourth among active coaches in the League.
Worth the Wait for Waite
Wisconsin head coach Pete Waite captured career win No. 400 last Friday in a 3-0 sweep of Virginia. Waite, who is in his 17th year at the helm of the Badgers, ranks 35th all-time among active coaches with 402 wins, but ranks near the top 10 in winning percentage at .739 (402-142) overall.
Wolverines Go 3-0 For Rosen's 3-0-0
Michigan head coach Mark Rosen recorded his 300th career victory in a 3-0 defeat of Oakland University on September 11. The Wolverines captured the Michigan/Pepsi Challenge title that evening with a 3-0 sweep of Florida State. Rosen is now 304-109 in his 13th season as a head coach and has 95 wins at the Michigan helm, third-best on the all-time list.
The Sweet Smell of a Rose
Penn State opened its season September 3 with a 3-0 sweep of Rutgers, giving head coach Russ Rose his 800th career victory. The Nittany Lion mentor became only the sixth coach in Division I history to reach the 800-win plateau. Currently, Rose ranks second all-time among active coaches in winning percentage (.846, Hawaii's Dave Shoji-.850) and third all-time in victories (811).