Oct. 13, 2008
Complete Release in PDF Format
FACES OF THE BIG TEN
JULI PIERCE, Indiana
Sr., Georgetown, Ind. / Our Lady of Providence
Pierce was listed as a senior all of last season due to her pending graduation in May of 2008. However, she decided to return for her fourth and final year of eligibility this season while attending graduate school. Pierce broke the all-time school record for most digs in a single-season in 2007 and will likely be the leader in the career category by season's end. Her graduate course work began over the summer, as she is pursuing a master's degree in Sports Marketing & Management.
Still the 1
Penn State remains the No. 1 team in the country for the eighth consecutive week this season. The Nittany Lions are one of only three undefeated teams in the NCAA and are the only squad that has not yet dropped a single set. The Nittany Lions' sweeps have come in dominating fashion, as the team has allowed 20 or more points in just 10 of their 54 sets played. In fact, PSU has held its opponents to 10 or fewer points in a set on six occasions and to 15 or fewer points in a set 24 times. Penn State has never been forced to extra points in a set and is allowing opponents an average of 47.28 points per match and just 15.76 points per set.
The Best Around
This week's Big Ten volleyball schedule includes nine matches that feature at least one top-25 team and three matches that pit two top-25 teams against each other. Highlighting the slate, No. 1 Penn State hosts No. 22 Michigan on Friday night while No. 19 Wisconsin travels to No. 21 Purdue. The following day features another pair of top-25 teams as No. 17 Illinois welcomes the Badgers for an afternoon matchup.
Big Ten. Big Blocks.
The Big Ten boasts four of the top 10 and seven of the top 28 NCAA leaders in blocks per set. Indiana's Ashley Benson leads the conference and is third in the nation with a 1.59 average, followed by No. 4 Illinois' Johannah Bangert (1.58), No. 6 Minnesota's Lauren Gibbemeyer, (1.52) and No. 9 Penn State's Christa Harmotto (1.45). Big Ten teams are just as powerful at the net with five of the NCAA's top 15 blocking squads. Penn State leads the nation with a 3.12 bps average, followed by No. 5 Minnesota (2.90), No. 11 Illinois (2.80), No. 12 Indiana (2.79) and No. 15 Ohio State (2.74).
Penn State's Nicole Fawcett and Purdue's Stephanie Lynch are the only two players to rank in the top 10 in the conference in three of the six major statistical categories (hitting percentage, kills, assists, aces, blocks and digs). Fawcett leads the Big Ten with a 0.40 aces-per-set average, and is fifth with a .402 hitting percentage and 3.83 kills per set. Lynch is third with a .420 hitting mark, sixth with 3.53 kills per set and seventh with 1.27 blocks per contest. Also ranking among the Big Ten's best in multiple statistical categories, Illinois' Laura DeBruler is the only player to rank in the top 10 in kills (4.41) and digs (3.22) per set; Michigan's Juliana Paz is one of only two players (Fawcett) to sit in the top 10 in kills (3.35) and aces (0.34) per set; and Minnesota's Lauren Gibbemeyer is the only player in the top 10 in kills (3.36) and blocks (1.52) per set.
Rosen Hits His Mark
Michigan head coach Mark Rosen became the program's all-time winningest mentor over the weekend with the Wolverines' 3-1 win over Purdue on Friday. Rosen surpassed Sandy Vong, who coached at Michigan from 1973-83 and compiled a record of 177-150-7 during his tenure. Rosen currently owns a career record of 178-126 in his 10th season with the program.
Seniors pace the Big Ten in several statistical categories, including hitting percentage, kills and service aces. Penn State's Christa Harmotto leads the Big Ten with a .516 hitting average and is one of five seniors to rank in the top 10 in that category. Indiana's Erica Short leads the way with 4.85 kills per set and is one of four seniors in that stat's top-10 list. Finally, Nicole Fawcett is one of three seniors to rank in the top 10 in service aces per set with a 0.40 average.
Big Ten on TV
The Big Ten's 11 volleyball squads are enjoying vast exposure during the 2008 regular season with 23 matches airing on national television. Two Big Ten volleyball matches hit the airwaves this week, beginning on Wednesday as Iowa travels to take on No. 12 Minnesota live on the Big Ten Network. Coverage continues on Saturday as the Golden Gophers welcome Michigan State for a match that will be broadcast by ESPN2. Iowa is making its first TV appearance this season, while Michigan State and Minnesota are both 1-1 in TV contests.