Big Ten Weekly Volleyball Release - Oct. 15

No. 10 Minnesota hosts No. 5 Michigan State on Thursday on ESPN2.

Oct. 15, 2013

Rosemont, Ill. -

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Attached you will find the Big Ten volleyball weekly release, complete with updated standings, statistics, news and notes from around the conference.

BIG TEN MEDAL OF HONOR 100TH ANNIVERSARY SPOTLIGHT – Wisconsin’s Erin Byrd: Awarded the Big Ten Medal of Honor in 2003, Byrd was a four-year letterwinner for the Badgers, leading Wisconsin in digs each season she competed and to a pair of Big Ten Championships (2001-02) and four NCAA Tournament berths. She is one of just five Badgers to record more than 1,000 digs and 1,000 kills in her career. The outside hitter was a second-team AVCA All-American (2002), a two-time All-Big Ten selection (2001-02), a Big Ten All-Freshman Team pick (1999) and a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree (2000-02). The Glen Ellyn, Ill., native, tops the Badger record book in consecutive matches played (133) and is fourth in digs (1,397), fifth in digs per set (3.02) and eighth in service aces (120). Following her collegiate career, Byrd played professionally for six years before earning a master’s degree in business administration from Wisconsin.

First Serve: After the third week of Big Ten play, Michigan State sits atop the conference standings at an unblemished 6-0. Nebraska and Penn State follow at 5-1, while Minnesota and Wisconsin each hold 4-2 marks. The conference slate continues this week with five top-25 tilts, including a top-10 matchup on ESPN2 on Thursday. The other 11 matches will be nationally distributed on BTN or BTDN.

Where We Rank: Eight Big Ten teams are ranked in this week’s AVCA Coaches’ poll, including four in the top 10, which leads all conferences. The Big Ten is led by No. 4 Penn State, followed by No. 5 Michigan State, No. 8 Nebraska, No. 10 Minnesota, No. 15 Wisconsin, No. 16 Michigan, No. 17 Ohio State and No. 25 Purdue. Illinois is also receiving votes.

Reppin’ in the RPI: According to the latest RPI report released by the NCAA on Monday, nine Big Ten teams appear in the top 50, including eight among the top 30, the most among all conferences. Penn State leads the way at No. 2, followed by No. 6 Nebraska, No. 9 Michigan State, No. 14 Wisconsin, No. 17 Minnesota, No. 24 Ohio State, No. 25 Illinois and No. 28 Michigan. Purdue appears at No. 47.

Top-25 Tilts: So far this season, Big Ten teams have competed in 35 top-25 matchups, with five more on the schedule this weekend. Additionally, five of those tilts have been top-10 battles. Iowa and Wisconsin will end this week having played five nationally ranked opponents in a row. Michigan State is undefeated against top-25 teams (4-0), while Penn State is 6-2 and Nebraska is 5-2.  

Five for Fighting: Forty of the Big Ten’s 171 matches this season have come down to five sets (23 percent), including 11 of 36 conference matchups (31 percent). Michigan, Northwestern, Ohio State, Purdue and Wisconsin have each played in five five-set matches, while Illinois, Iowa and Penn State have competed in four. The Wildcats and Buckeyes are both 4-1 when the match comes down to the last set, while the Fighting Illini and Hawkeyes are 3-1. 

Statistically Speaking: Numerous Big Ten standouts appear among the top 10 of the NCAA statistical leaders, which were released on Monday.  Penn State’s Micha Hancock is second in the nation in aces per set (0.82), while teammate Katie Slay ranks third in blocks per set (1.58). Ohio State’s Kaitlyn Leary is fourth in kills per set (4.93), while Nebraska’s Kelsey Robinson is 10th (4.49). Michigan State’s Lauren Wicinski ranks fifth in points per set (5.44) and Leary is eighth (5.27).  Michigan State’s Alexis Mathews is fourth in hitting percentage (.455), while Slay is 10th (.444). Teams in the top-five include Michigan State tied for third in win-loss percentage (.944) and Penn State fourth in hitting percentage (.314).