Oct. 17, 2005
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This Week Marks the Halfway Point to the Title
This weekend's action marks the halfway point in the Big Ten's 20-match conference schedule. No. 4 Penn State continues to remain undefeated in league play and atop the standings at 8-0. The Nittany Lions, 17-2 overall, are seeking their third consecutive Big Ten title. No. 7 Wisconsin sits in second place at 7-1, just ahead of No. 12 Minnesota at 6-2.
No. 17 Purdue, tied with Ohio State for fourth at 5-3, opens this week's action at home against Illinois on Wednesday.
Minnesota is set to host a pair of top 20 teams this weekend as the Golden Gophers will battle the No. 20 Buckeyes on Friday and Penn State on Saturday.
Five Big Ten Schools Ranked in Nation's Top 25
For the fifth consecutive week, five Big Ten teams are ranked in the CSTV/AVCA Top 25 Coaches Poll. Penn State (No. 3), Wisconsin (7), Minnesota (12), Purdue (17) and Ohio State (20) all found spots among the top 20 this week.
Comcast SportsNet Capsule: OSU at MINN
A week after having two conference matches nationally televised on ESPN2, Big Ten volleyball returns to Comcast SportsNet Chicago this weekend with a top 25 battle on the schedule. No. 20 Ohio State travels to No. 12 Minnesota on Friday at 7 p.m., for a match that will be broadcast Saturday at 4:30 p.m. CT.
Last year, OSU upset then-No. 1 Minnesota, 3-1, early in the season, but then dropped the second league match and was ousted by the Gophers in Minneapolis during the NCAA Regional Final.
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 20 schools in the nation, which is more than any other conference. Wisconsin (No. 3) is currently averaging 3,846 patrons per match, while Minnesota (4) and Purdue (6) follow in the top six. Penn State (10) and Illinois (18) rank among the top 20 as well.
Big Ten Ranks Among NCAA Leaders
Several Big Ten standouts and teams are nationally ranked in many categories. As of Oct. 9, four student-athletes rank in the top 30 in blocks and digs per game, while three rank among the top 20 in kills per game. Illinois' Rachel VanMeter (5.70) is the highest-ranked conference individual at No. 2 in kills per game. On the team side, six Big Ten squads rank among the top 30 in assists, while five rank in kills and four place in both hitting percentage and blocks per game.
With the win over No. 9 Minnesota, Purdue recorded its first regular-season victory over a top 10 team since 1990. The win also marked the Boilermakers' first overall victory since last year's NCAA Tournament defeat over No. 9 Colorado State. The Boilermakers are now 16-3 on the season, just one win shy of their 2005 win total.
Two significant milestones were surpassed and an impressive streak was continued in Madison, Wis., last weekend. Wisconsin head coach Pete Waite recorded his 100th Big Ten win with a 3-0 win over Indiana on Friday, while senior Aubrey Meierotto went over the 1,000 mark for career kills in the same match. Sophomore Jocelyn Wack also upped her string of double-figure digs matches to 48 with 16 digs against Northwestern and 14 against Indiana.
The Lions' Den
In eight conference matches this season, Penn State is undefeated and has only dropped two games to Big Ten foes. The Nittany Lions have won 24 of 26 games in league competition and lost only 11 out of 64 overall games. Wisconsin (45-10) is the lone conference school to have lost fewer games.
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 5,455 career assists, which ranks 11th in conference history and puts her tied for the school record with Salima Davidson (1991-94). Dargan's total of 5,229 is now 12th-best all-time in the Big Ten.
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.