Oct. 16, 2012
First Serve: Big Ten volleyball teams reach the midway point of the conference season this weekend, as each squad will play its 10th match of the 20-match slate. Penn State remains undefeated in the conference standings, with Nebraska, Minnesota, Purdue and Ohio State all within three games of the Nittany Lions. All 12 of this week’s matches will be nationally broadcast or streamed online.
The Week That Was: Penn State maintained its undefeated Big Ten record with back-to-back wins last week, while Nebraska earned two victories to take sole possession of second place. The Nittany Lions took a 3-0 decision over No. 17 Purdue on Friday before defeating Indiana in four sets on Saturday. The Huskers swept Wisconsin on Friday before earning a four-set win against No. 10 Minnesota on Sunday. Michigan also earned two wins on the week, sweeping No. 22 Illinois on Wednesday and Northwestern on Saturday.
Where We Rank: The Big Ten once again leads all conferences with six teams ranked in the latest AVCA Coaches Poll, including two of the top four teams. Penn State remains at No. 1 for the fourth consecutive week, while Nebraska sits at No. 4, and Minnesota remains at No. 10. Purdue checks in at No. 17, Ohio State is No. 20, and Illinois is No. 25. Michigan and Michigan State are receiving votes outside the top 25.
Midweek Madness: All 12 Big Ten squads will compete in midweek matchups for the first time this season, with six regional contests taking place, beginning with No. 17 Purdue traveling to Indiana on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET. The competition continues on Wednesday, starting with Michigan State at Michigan at 7 p.m, followed by No. 4 Nebraska traveling to Iowa, No. 25 Illinois hosting Northwestern, No. 1 Penn State at No. 20 Ohio State, and Wisconsin at No. 10 Minnesota at 8 p.m. The Indiana-Purdue, and Ohio State-Penn State matches will be shown live on BTN, while the other four contests will be streamed live on www.BTN.com.
Statistically Speaking: The Big Ten boasts several student-athletes in the NCAA top 10 in various statistical categories. Three of the top seven performers in aces per set hail from Big Ten teams as Michigan State’s Lauren Wicinski is second (.58), Penn State’s Micha Hancock is third (.58) and Minnesota’s Daly Santana is seventh (.51). Wicinski is also among the leaders in points per set (5.15), ranking ninth nationally. Three Big Ten standouts rank among the top six in hitting percentage, as Minnesota’s Tori Dixon is second (.455), Penn State’s Katie Slay ranks fourth (.465) and Illinois’ Anna Dorn is sixth (.430). Northwestern’s Madalyn Shalter also sits among the NCAA leaders, ranking 10th in assists per set (11.67).
Reppin’ the RPI: Ten Big Ten teams appear in the top 50 of the latest RPI rankings, released by the NCAA this week. Three conference squads have earned spots in the top 10, with No. 2 Penn State leading the way. Nebraska follows at No. 3, while Minnesota checks in at No. 10. Michigan, Ohio State and Purdue each hold top-25 rankings as the Boilermakers are 16th, the Wolverines are 24th and the Buckeyes are 25th.
Don’t Touch That Dial: All 12 of this week’s Big Ten matches will be broadcast live or streamed online. Tuesday’s Indiana-Purdue match (8 p.m. ET), Wednesday’s Ohio State-Penn State contest (8 p.m.), Friday’s Indiana-Wisconsin match (8 p.m.) and Sunday’s Iowa-Northwestern contest (3 p.m.) will each be shown live on BTN, while Sunday’s Illinois-Nebraska tilt will be shown live on ESPN2 at 3 p.m. The rest of the Big Ten slate will be streamed live at www.BTN.com.
We’ve Got You Covered: Now there are more ways than ever to follow Big Ten volleyball. The Big Ten volleyball blog can be accessed directly at www.bigten.org/blog/volleyball and features notes, links to articles, previews, recaps and more. Keep track of Big Ten volleyball by following the conference on Twitter @BigTenConf and @B1GVolleyball, and become a fan of the Big Ten Conference on Facebook.