Big Ten Weekly Volleyball Release - Oct. 1

Michigan State's Lauren Wicinski was named AVCA National Player of the Week.

Oct. 1, 2013

Rosemont, Ill. -

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BIG TEN MEDAL OF HONOR 100TH ANNIVERSARY SPOTLIGHT – Michigan Andrea Williams: Awarded the Big Ten Medal of Honor in 1985, Williams was the first Michigan female student-athlete to play a varsity sport while attending graduate school. The Scarborough, Ont., native completed a Ph.D. program in world politics while competing for the Wolverines in 1984 and 1985. Williams led Michigan in assists, hitting percentage, kills and solo blocks in both seasons she competed, along with being named an Academic All-Big Ten selection. In 1985, she was named honorable mention All-Big Ten, while also leading the Wolverines in digs, total blocks and sets played. Prior to her time at Michigan, Williams competed for the Canadian national team.

First Serve: After the first week of Big Ten play, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin hold unblemished 2-0 conference records, while Illinois, Northwestern, Ohio State and Penn State posted 1-1 marks. The conference slate continues this week with four top-25 tilts and seven matches on BTN or BTDN.

Lucky Number Thirteen: The Big Ten boasts four schools with at least 13 victories this season, the most among all conferences nationally. Minnesota has earned 14 wins on the year, while Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin have each garnered 13 triumphs. Additionally, six of the 12 conference squads have earned double-digit win totals and four other teams have posted nine victories. 

Nation’s Best: Michigan State outside hitter Lauren Wicinksi has been named the Sports Imports/AVCA Division I National Player of the Week after leading then-No. 15 Michigan State to road victories over No. 1 Penn State and No. 13 Ohio State to open Big Ten play 2-0 for the fourth time in school history. On the week, the senior averaged 4.1 kills and 1.4 digs per set. Wicinski is the third Big Ten student-athlete to be named National Player of the Week this season and second in a row, joining Ohio State’s Kaitlyn Leary (Sept. 10) and Northwestern’s Stephanie Holthus (Sept. 24).

Statistically Speaking: Numerous Big Ten standouts appear among the top 10 of the NCAA statistical leaders, which were released on Monday.  Penn State’s Micha Hancock tops the nation in aces per set (0.83), while Ohio State’s Kaitlyn Leary ranks fourth in kills per set (5.21). Leary is also fourth in points per set (5.59), while Minnesota’s Tori Dixon is 10th (5.27). Penn State’s Katie Slay is third in hitting percentage (.494), followed by Dixon in sixth (.476) and Michigan State’s Alexis Mathews in ninth (.452).  Ohio State’s Taylor Sherwin averages 12.19 assists per set, good for fourth in the country, while Northwestern’s Caleigh Ryan is seventh (11.84). As a team, Penn State is fourth in the nation in hitting percentage (333) and Minnesota is fifth (.330).

Where We Rank: Eight Big Ten teams are ranked in this week’s AVCA Coaches’ poll, including four in the top 10, which leads all conferences nationally. The Big Ten is led by No. 5 Penn State, followed by No. 8 Minnesota, No. 9 Michigan State, No. 10 Nebraska, No. 12 Ohio State, No. 14 Michigan, No. 23 Wisconsin and No. 24 Purdue. Illinois is receiving votes. The Spartans moved up six spots in the poll.

Road Warriors: Michigan State improved to 4-0 on the road this weekend, downing No. 1 Penn State (3-2) on Friday and No. 13 Ohio State (3-0) on Saturday. The win against the Nittany Lions was the Spartans’ first ever against a top-ranked squad and handed Penn State just its third home loss since the 2006 season. Ohio State and Wisconsin are also undefeated away from home, each posting 3-0 marks on the road.