Oct. 10, 2005
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Preseason Picks Shaping Up
Just as the preseason coaches' rankings predicted, three teams have begun to distance themselves from the rest of the conference in the race for the Big Ten Championship. Penn State (Preseason No. 1) sits atop the standings at 6-0, while Minnesota (2) and Wisconsin (3) are tied for second at 5-1 in league play.
Action kicks off this week on Wednesday with No. 8 Wisconsin hosting Northwestern at 7 p.m. A pair of Top 25 teams battle this week with No. 9 Minnesota traveling to No. 21 Purdue on Friday at 7 p.m.
Five Big Ten Schools Ranked in Nation's Top 25
For the fourth 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 (19) and Purdue (21) all found spots among the top 25 this week.
ESPN2 to Broadcast Big Ten Doubleheader Sunday
Big Ten volleyball hits the national airwaves this Sunday as a pair of conference matchups will be broadcast by ESPN2. Friday's match between Michigan at Penn State will air at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, followed by Saturday's battle between Minnesota at Illinois. The latter matchup is scheduled to show at 2:30 p.m. ET. ESPN2 will also return to televise Wisconsin at Ohio State later this month.
Penn State's Tortorello Named AVCA National POW
Last week, Penn State setter Sam Tortorello earned both Big Ten and AVCA/Sports Imports Division I National Player of the Week honors. Tortorello's national honor was the first of her career and second in PSU history as Syndie Nadeau (2001-04) garnered the award on Nov. 8, 2004.
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 five teams among the top 15 schools in the nation, which is more than any other conference. Wisconsin (No. 3) is currently averaging 4,011 patrons per match, while Minnesota (4) and Purdue (5) follow in the top five. Penn State (7) and Illinois (15) rank among the top 15 as well.
For single-match attendance marks, Big Ten teams have participated in eight of the 30 top-attended matches. Just last week, Wisconsin hosted 6,774 fans for the Penn State match, which was 16th-best in the country this season.
Big Ten Ranks Among NCAA Leaders
Several Big Ten standouts and teams are nationally ranked in many categories. As of Oct. 2, four student-athletes rank in the top 30 in blocks per game, while three rank among the top 15 in kills per game. Illinois' Rachel VanMeter (5.71) is the highest-ranked conference individual at No. 3 in kills per game. On the team side, four Big Ten squads rank among the top 30 in assists, blocks and kills per game, while three are listed in hitting percentage.
Two Standouts Eyeing Career Top-10 in Assists
A pair of Big Ten standouts -- Penn State's Sam Tortorello and Purdue's Renata Dargan -- is quickly approaching the career top 10 lists for assists. Currently, Tortorello has 5,373 career assists, which ranks 12th, followed by Dargan's total of 5,136 in 13th. Judging by their assist totals from last year, both players have a legitimate shot at breaking the Big Ten's all-time career assists mark of 6,024, currently held by Minnesota's Sharon Oesterling from 1986-89. Duplication this season of Tortorello's 2004 total of 1,526 assists and Dargan's mark of 1,556 would give the PSU senior the record at 6,129, while Dargan would finish as the second-highest at 5,939.
Michigan Milestones Marked
Three significant milestones are in the near future for the Michigan Wolverines. The Maize and Blue, which will face No. 4 Penn State and No. 19 Ohio State this week, need just one win to record the 500th in the program's history. U-M head coach Mark Rosen will coach in his 450th career match on Friday when the Wolverines travel to State College, and is just two wins shy of 325 for his career.
MSU Libero Breaks 16-Year School Record
In last Friday's 3-0 loss to Purdue, Michigan State libero Nicole Colaluca broke a 16-year-old single-season record as she posted 28 digs in the three-game match. The Spartan's total was one dig better than Jill Krumm's record-setting performance of 27 in 1989.