Big Ten Volleyball Weekly Release - Oct. 12, 2009

Illinois' Rachel Feldman keeps a unicycle in her campus apartment.

Illinois' Rachel Feldman keeps a unicycle in her campus apartment.

Oct. 12, 2009

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Rachel Feldman, Illinois
So., Normal, Ill.

Illinois defensive specialist Rachel Feldman got an early start on the skills she needed to become an elite volleyball player, having attended Circus Camp during her pre-teen years. Based on Cirque du Soleil, she learned basic skills like how to walk on globes, juggle, walk the tight rope, climb the Spanish Web and do tricks on the German Ladder. One skill she still uses today is riding a unicycle, which she keeps in her campus apartment. Feldman hosts “Around the Block” on, where she interviews her teammates. After graduation, Feldman plans to pursue a career in crime analysis.

Big Ten Polling Place
The Big Ten remains the only conference in the nation with three top-10 teams. Penn State once again leads the Big Ten and the country at No. 1. The Nittany Lions are followed by No. 6 Minnesota and No. 10 Illinois, who is up two spots from last week. Michigan comes in at No. 11, while Michigan State and Wisconsin are receiving votes outside the top 25.

Ripping Up the RPI
Four Big Ten teams landed in the top 10 of the first NCAA RPI report, leading all conferences. Penn State fronts the Big Ten and is third in the NCAA, followed by No. 4 Illinois, No. 5 Michigan and No. 7 Minnesota. The Big Ten and Pac-10 each lead the nation with nine top-50 teams (No. 14 Michigan State, No. 37 Wisconsin, No. 39 Ohio State, No. 42 Purdue and No. 46 Northwestern). RPI is one of several tools used to select teams for the NCAA Championship.

Movin’ on Up
With wins over No. 8 Michigan and No. 18 Michigan State over the weekend, Wisconsin vaulted from eighth to third in the conference standings. The victories marked the first time since 2006 that the Badgers knocked off ranked opponents in back-to-back matches, and the win over the Wolverines was the highest ranked team that Wisconsin has beaten since downing No. 2 Penn State on Oct. 27, 2006.

And Then There Was One
Penn State remained the only team undefeated in Big Ten play by sweeping No. 5 Minnesota on Sunday. The Gophers entered the match 5-0 in conference. The Nittany Lions have posted unblemished Big Ten records in each of the last two seasons and have now run their overall NCAA-record winning streak to 82 matches.

New and Improved
Two Big Ten teams have already eclipsed their win totals from all of last season, while three more squads are approaching the same mark. Northwestern is three games ahead of last year with 11 wins compared to last season’s eight. Ohio State is two wins better, now with 14 compared to last year’s 12. Michigan State is one win away from last year’s total, while Indiana and Iowa are both four away.

The Big Ten continues to boast the nation’s best fans with seven teams in the NCAA’s top 30 in average attendance. Minnesota is third in the country with 4,345 fans per game, while Wisconsin is in fourth (3,832). Other notables include Penn State (6th, 3,070), Purdue (12th, 2,277), Illinois (16th, 1,866), Michigan State (21st, 1,567) and Iowa (28th, 1,267).

Full Coverage
Big Ten volleyball is enjoying vast coverage during the 2009 season with 23 matches broadcast nationally on the Big Ten Network, ESPN2 and ESPNU. In addition, 21 more matches will be streamed on The complete broadcast schedule can be found on Page 5 of this release.

Daily doses of Big Ten volleyball news can be found on the Big Ten Volleyball Blog, at Keep track of Big Ten volleyball in real-time by logging on to Twitter and following @BigTenConf and @BigTenVal.




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