Oct. 4, 2004
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Michigan State Battles Rival Michigan on Wednesday
Big Ten action kicks off this week in Ann Arbor when Michigan (13-2, 3-1 Big Ten) hosts intrastate rival Michigan State (6-6, 1-3). First serve is slated at 7 p.m. Prior to Wednesday's match, Iowa (9-6, 1-3) will travel to Northern Iowa on Tuesday in non-conference action. A full weekend is ahead for League play, highlighted by Conference leader Ohio State (14-0, 4-0) on the road at Indiana (6-9, 0-4) and Purdue (10-4, 3-1), while Minnesota (14-2, 3-1) hosts Wisconsin (8-4, 2-2) and Northwestern (5-9, 0-4).
No. 16 Ohio State Upsets No. 1 Minnesota, 3-1
After enjoying six victories as the top-ranked team in the nation, Minnesota was upset by No. 16 Ohio State 3-1 (30-24, 30-23, 18-30, 30-24) on Friday in Columbus. The win improved Ohio State to 4-0 in League play and 14-0 on the season, which marks the Buckeyes' best start in school history and OSU's third-longest winning streak. The Buckeyes won 27 matches in 1991 and 21 in 1994 with both streaks resulting in Big Ten championships a trip to the NCAA National Semifinal.
Big Ten Boasts Big Upsets of Top-Ranked Teams
For the second time this season, a Big Ten team has upset the nation's top-ranked team. No. 16 Ohio State knocked off No. 1 Minnesota 3-1 (30-24, 30-23, 18-30, 30-24) on October 1, while 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, Minnesota dropped a 3-2 heartbreaker to then-No. 1 USC at the NACWAA Tournament.
Buckeyes Among Four Unbeaten Teams in the Nation
Riding their best start to a season in school history, the Ohio State Buckeyes are 14-0 on the year and one of only four teams in the nation that remain undefeated. Ohio State boasts the best record of the four as Texas is 13-0 and Washington and Hawaii are both 12-0. While OSU has needed four games to claim victory on five occasions this year, the Buckeyes are the lone undefeated team to have not yet needed a fifth-game tiebreaker. Texas and Washington have each reached a five-game set once, while Hawaii has had four contests extend to five games.
No. 1 Minnesota Tops No. 4 Penn State in Historical Match
Despite falling to Ohio State the night before, Minnesota brought its No. 1 ranking into State College on October 2 and defeated No. 4 Penn State 3-2 (34-36, 30-28, 30-27, 26-30, 15-11). The match marked the highest-ranking matchup in the Big Ten history and only the second time ever that two League teams faced 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 had 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).
Nothing Recreation About Rec Hall For Minnesota
In that historical match between Minnesota and Penn State, the Gophers won for the second straight year in Rec Hall at Penn State. The 3-2 win marked only the third time in 16 tries Minnesota has won at Rec Hall, giving Minnesota three of the last four meetings at Rec Hall. The Gophers also made history in Rec Hall in 2000 when they snapped Penn State's NCAA record 87-match home winning streak.
Seven Big Ten Teams Earn Recognition in Top 25 Poll
Seven Big Ten teams have received recognition in the USA Today/CSTV Top 25 poll released October 4. Minnesota leads the League at No. 3, followed by No. 6 Penn State, No. 9 Ohio State and No. 24 Illinois. Ohio State has made a steady improvement (25-20-16-9) each week since entering the poll a month ago. Michigan, Purdue and Wisconsin also received votes.
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, established by Minnesota's Nicole Branagh from 1997-2000.
Currently, the Buckeye senior has 2,277 kills for her career, 102 shy of the record. Gordon, who is averaging 6.98 kills per game through 46 games this season, could potentially break the Conference mark in two weeks.
Gordon is in position to move into second place all-time this weekend. She is 15 kills shy of the third-best mark of 2,292 set by Michigan State's Jenna Wrobel (1995-98) and 23 shy of Minnesota's Katrien DeDecker's 2,300 set from 1993-96. Gordon is 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 1,609 for her career. Minnesota's Erin Martin (1,443) and Michigan's Jennifer Gandolph (1,405) are also quickly approaching the 1,500-kill mark.
A Streak To Remember
Prior to falling 3-1 to Ohio State on October 1, Minnesota spent three weeks at the top spot in the national rankings -- the first time in school history the Golden Gophers had ever been rank No. 1. In that span, Minnesota went 6-1, marking the first time a Big Ten squad had 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.
Gentil Digging Away in Big Ten Record Books
With 71 digs over the weekend of October 1-2, Minnesota junior libero Paula Gentil moved into third place on the Big Ten all-time digs list with 1,640 career digs. Gentil moved past Iowa's Jenny Rees (1,632, 1987-90) and now sits 280 digs out of second place and 291 away from the all-time Big Ten record. 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.
Gophers' Gentil and Lions' Walters Dig Down Deep
Two Big Ten student-athletes from two different teams were looking for one League record on October 2. Minnesota's Paula Gentil set the Big Ten record for digs in a match with 47, bettering the previous record of 44 set by Wisconsin's Susan Wohlford against Iowa on October 20, 1990. On the other side of the net, Penn State junior libero Kaleena Walters matched Wohlford's mark with a career-high and Penn State record 44 digs against the Gophers.
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 9-6 on the season and 1-3 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.
Illini's Virtue to Miss Remainder of Season
Illinois senior setter Erin Virtue suffered a tear of her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her right knee late in the Illini's win over Ball State on September 17. The injury requires surgery, which will force the Honorable Mention All-American and Preseason All-Big Ten selection to 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.
Gophers Say Just Bring It
Minnesota has stormed out to a 14-2 record this season, with six 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 Penn State (3-2), 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 fell to No. 16 Ohio State (3-1) on October 1, but still hold a record of 4-2 versus top 20 teams and a 4-1 record against teams in the top 15.
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 five triple-doubles this year, with two coming against three 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. Most recently, Bowman delivered 16 kills, 21 digs and 34 assists at No. 4 Penn State on October 2.
Big Ten Ranks Among Nation's Best
As of September 26, 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 (6.95), while teammate Marisa Main is first in the country in assists per game (14.75). In team categories, Ohio State leads the nation in assists per game (16.68) followed by Minnesota (16.21). In the same category, Purdue ranks fifth and Penn State is 13th. OSU also holds the nation's top mark in kills per game (18.08) and second-best mark in hitting percentage (.339).
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 during the month of September.
Most recently, Michigan State was scheduled to face then-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.
Gordon Extends Double-Figure Streak for Kills
Ohio State's Stacey Gordon has extended her double-figure kill streak to 90 after tallying double-digit totals in each of her two matches last weekend. For her career, she has double-figure kills in 103 of 105 matches.
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.
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.
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 on September 17 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 404 wins, but ranks near the top 10 in winning percentage at .740 (404-142) 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 307-109 (.738) in his 13th season as a head coach and has 98 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).