Oct. 3, 2005
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League Leaders to Battle on Saturday
Two weeks of conference play are in the books and the race for the Big Ten Championship is on. No. 4 Penn State and No. 8 Wisconsin sit atop the league standings with 4-0 conference marks, but that could change with the Nittany Lions traveling to Madison to take on the Badgers on Saturday.
Prior to the Penn State-Wisconsin matchup, the Lions will play at Northwestern on Friday, while the Badgers will host No. 18 Ohio State.
Big Ten action kicks off this week on Wednesday as Iowa (11-6, 1-3 Big Ten) will head to Minneapolis to battle No. 9 Minnesota (13-2, 3-1) at 7 p.m.
Big Ten Maintains its "Major" Start
Of the six major conferences in the country (ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10, SEC), the Big Ten is the only league to boast every team with a record of .500 or better. Wisconsin leads all Big Ten schools with a 12-1 (.923) mark, while Indiana is the 11th conference school at .500 or better with a record of 8-8 (.500). Overall, the Big Ten is off to a 93-23 (.802) non-conference start.
Five Big Ten Schools Ranked in Nation's Top 25
For the third consecutive week, five Big Ten teams are ranked in the CSTV/AVCA Top 25 Coaches Poll. Penn State (No. 4), Wisconsin (8), Minnesota (9), Ohio State (18) and Purdue (22) all found spots among the top 25 this week.
First-Place Teams to be Televised on Comcast
Comcast SportsNet Chicago will travel to Madison this week to air the Penn State at Wisconsin match, scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. CT. The match will air on tape-delay at 12:30 CT the following day. The match could potentially break a tie atop the league standings as both teams could be 5-0, should they each win on Friday. Wisconsin is off to a 4-0 Big Ten start for the first time since 2001.
Conference Boasts FAN-tastic Attendance Marks
In the unofficial national attendance figures, which are compiled weekly by the University of Wisconsin, the Big Ten boasts six teams among the top 20 schools in the nation, which is twice as much as the next conference. Minnesota (No. 3) is currently averaging 3,616 patrons per match, while Wisconsin (4), Purdue (6), and Penn State (8) rank among the top 10 as well. Illinois is 15th and Michigan State ranks 20th.
For single-match attendance marks, Big Ten teams have participated in 10 of the 30 top-attended matches. Just last week, Purdue set the fifth-highest attendance total in the country this season when 8,512 spectators watched the No. 21 Boilermakers top Northwestern, 3-0. The crowd was the second largest in Purdue volleyball history.
Big Ten Ranks Among NCAA Leaders
Several Big Ten standouts and teams are nationally ranked in many categories. As of Sept. 25, four student-athletes rank in the top 30 in assists and blocks per game, while three rank among the top 10 in kills per game. Illinois' Rachel VanMeter (5.96) is the highest-ranked conference individual at No. 2 in kills per game. On the team side, four Big Ten squads rank among the top 30 in assists, while three are listed in the categories of blocks and kills per game and hitting percentage. A complete breakdown is on page three.
A Triple-Double Double
Two Big Ten student-athletes recorded triple-doubles in competition last week. On September 27, Iowa's Kiley Fister posted 11 kills, 10 digs and 53 assists in the Hawkeyes' win over Northern Iowa. Last Friday, Purdue's Renata Dargan recorded 13 kills, 13 digs and 61 assists as the No. 21 Boilermakers nearly upset eighth-ranked Wisconsin in a five-game thriller. A total of four triple-doubles have been set this season. Minnesota's Kelly Bowman and Ohio State's Marisa Main have the other two.
Attacking Their Way to the Top
Illinois senior Rachel VanMeter, who leads the Big Ten at 5.71 kills per game, recently set the league's season-high for attempts in a match with 82 against Northwestern. In the Illini's five-game thriller against the Wildcats on September 30, VanMeter slammed 24 kills on 82 attempts, while posting 11 errors. VanMeter bested her mark of 79, which was previously the Big Ten's highest total this season.
Coincidentally, the season-high mark for team attempts fell this past week as well. In another five-game match, Iowa totaled 235 attempts against Northern Iowa, while connecting for 76 kills.