Oct. 18, 2004
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A Blockbuster to Begin This Week's Big Ten Action
Big Ten play begins this weekend with a blockbuster of a match as No. 5 Penn State (16-1, 7-1 Big Ten) hosts No. 7 Ohio State (18-0, 8-0) on Wednesday. The Big Ten will also have top 25 teams battling against each other this weekend as well, with No. 24 Illinois (13-4, 5-3) hosting Penn State on Friday, followed by Ohio State on Saturday.
No. 5 Penn State Set to Make History Again
For the 17th time in League history, two Big Ten teams ranked in the nation's top 10 will battle in Conference action. No. 7 Ohio State travels to No. 5 Penn State for a 7 p.m. first serve on Wednesday. Three weeks ago, then-No. 4 Penn State dropped a 3-2 heartbreaker to top-ranked Minnesota, marking the highest-ranked match in Big Ten history. Of the 17 matches in which Big Ten teams have been ranked in the top 10, the Nittany Lions have been a participant on 15 occasions.
Buckeyes Among Three Unbeaten Teams in the Nation
Riding its best start in school history, Ohio State is 18-0 on the year and one of only three teams in the nation that remain undefeated. The Buckeyes boast the best record of the four as No. 3 Hawaii is 16-0 and No. 1 Washington is 15-0. While OSU has needed four games to claim victory on seven occasions this year, the Buckeyes are the lone undefeated team to have not yet needed a fifth-game tiebreaker. Hawaii has had four contests extend to five games, while Washington has had just one.
Three Conference Teams Rank Among Top Ten
For the third time this season and only the second time in Big Ten history, three teams rank in the top 10 nationally, including two in the top five. In the latest USA Today/CSTV Top 25 Coaches Poll, Minnesota is ranked No. 2, followed by No. 5 Penn State and No. 7 Ohio State. The Gophers and Nittany Lions remained the same from one week ago, while Ohio State improved one position from eighth. Previously this year, the Gophers were ranked No. 1, while Penn State was fifth and Illinois was ninth in the September 13th poll.
Illinois is the fourth Big Ten school ranked in the top 25 as the Fighting Illini are currently 24th.
Ohio State's Gordon Sets All-Time Big Ten Kill Mark
Ohio State's Stacey Gordon, who set a Big Ten record last season with 6.62 kills per game, has now broke the all-time Big Ten kill record of 2,379, established by Minnesota's Nicole Branagh from 1997-2000.
Gordon averaged 8.0 kills per game in two matches this past weekend and recorded her 2,380th career kill, which set the all-time Big Ten mark. The Buckeye senior had 25 kills in three games against Michigan State and 31 in a four-game match versus Michigan.
Her record-breaking kill came on her 27th kill against the Wolverines, which gave OSU a 13-12 lead in game four. Gordon, who passed the mark of 2,379 set by Minnesota's Nicole Branagh (1997-2000), ended the weekend with 2,384 career kills. Her current total moves her to seventh on the NCAA Division I career kills list. She stands 56 kills behind No. 6 Jill McCreary (1987, 89-91) of Akron who has 2,439. Gordon has a 5.99 career kills per game average which ranks third in the NCAA Division I career kills per game list.
Others in League Stalking Gordon's Mark
Several other Big Ten student-athletes have their sights set on individual marks for kills this season as well. Indiana's Christina Archibald surpassed the 1,500-kill plateau September 18 and now stands at 1,627 for her career. Minnesota's Erin Martin became only the seventh Minnesota player to record 1,500 kills in a career, and moved past former teammate Cassie Busse (2000-03) on the all-time kills list with 1,504 kills. Michigan's Jennifer Gandolph (1,428) is also quickly approaching the 1,500-kill mark.
Nearly 11,000 Gopher Fans Help Minnesota Set Record
On October 16, Minnesota broke a school record for attendance with 10,927 fans for a match at Williams Arena. The 10,927 fans that came to see the Gophers defeat then-No. 23 Illinois, were the most fans to attend a Division I volleyball match this season. Minnesota's old record of 6,046 was set in Williams Arena on September 28, 1990 against Purdue.
The Minnesota-Illinois match was the second-highest attended match between two Big Ten teams in the history of the League. The highest attended match came when 10,935 fans watched Illinois and Wisconsin battle on November 30, 1990, in Madison.
Illinois 1-1 Against 1-2
The No. 24 Fighting Illini of Illinois boast a 1-1 (.500) record this season against teams in the top 25. However, that record could also be referred to as one against teams in the top two. Illinois upset then-No. 1 USC earlier in the year and just recently fell to No. 2 Minnesota. The Illini will get their chance to improve on their top 10 record this weekend when they face No. 5 Penn State on Friday and No. 7 Ohio State on Saturday.
A Night At The Net
Wisconsin freshman Taylor Reineke turned in a 12-block performance against Indiana on Friday, marking the highest total number of blocks in a match by a League player this year. Reineke recorded two solo blocks along with 10 assists in the Badgers' thrilling 3-2 victory over the Hoosiers.
Northwestern's Robertson Goes "Wild" Against Indiana
Despite falling 3-2 to Indiana last weekend, the Northwestern Wildcats received a top-notch performance by senior Drew Robertson. She became the third League player this year to record a triple-double when she turned in 11 kills, 27 digs and 57 assists. Robertson joins Minnesota's Kelly Bowman (5) and Michigan's Lisa Gamalski (1) as the only League players to record at least one triple-double this season.
Bowman on Top of Game Versus Top-Ranked Competition
Minnesota's Kelly Bowman has tallied five triple-doubles this year, with two coming against three of the top four teams in the nation. On August 28, Bowman recorded 17 kills, 18 digs and 40 assists versus No. 1 USC, while on September 11, she recorded 11 kills, 19 kills and 15 assists against No. 4 Florida. Most recently, Bowman delivered 16 kills, 21 digs and 34 assists at No. 4 Penn State on October 2.
Ohio State Upsets No. 1 Minnesota, 3-1
After enjoying six victories as the top-ranked team in the nation, Minnesota was upset by No. 16 Ohio State 3-1 (30-24, 30-23, 18-30, 30-24) October 1 in Columbus. The win improved Ohio State to 4-0 in League play and 14-0 on the season, which marks the Buckeyes' best start in school history and OSU's third-longest winning streak. The Buckeyes won 27 matches in 1991 and 21 in 1994 with both streaks resulting in Big Ten championships and a trip to the NCAA National Semifinal.
No. 1 Minnesota Tops No. 4 Penn State in Historical Match
Despite falling to Ohio State the night before, Minnesota brought its No. 1 ranking into State College on October 2 and defeated No. 4 Penn State 3-2 (34-36, 30-28, 30-27, 26-30, 15-11). The match marked the highest-ranking matchup in the Big Ten history and only the second time ever that two League teams faced off while each were nationally ranked in the top five. The only other time this scenario occurred in Conference history was when No. 4 Ohio State battled No. 5 Penn State on November 29, 1994.
The match was the first time since October 19, 2002 had two Big Ten squads taken to the court ranked in the top 10. Ironically, that match was also between Minnesota (9) and Penn State (8).
Nothing Recreation About Rec Hall For Minnesota
In that historical match between Minnesota and Penn State, the Gophers won for the second straight year in Rec Hall at Penn State. The 3-2 win marked only the third time in 16 tries Minnesota has won at Rec Hall, giving Minnesota three of the last four meetings at Rec Hall. The Gophers also made history in Rec Hall in 2000 when they snapped Penn State's NCAA record 87-match home winning streak.
A Streak To Remember
Prior to falling 3-1 to Ohio State on October 1, Minnesota spent three weeks at the top spot in the national rankings -- the first time in school history the Golden Gophers had ever been rank No. 1. In that span, Minnesota went 6-1, marking the first time a Big Ten squad had ruled the collegiate volleyball scene in three-consecutive weeks since Penn State in 1999. The Nittany Lions held the No. 1 rank for 11-straight weeks from October 4, 1999 until the final poll of the 1999 season when PSU captured the NCAA title.
Big Ten Boasts Big Upsets of Top-Ranked Teams
For the second time this season, a Big Ten team has upset the nation's top-ranked team. No. 16 Ohio State knocked off No. 1 Minnesota 3-1 (30-24, 30-23, 18-30, 30-24) on October 1, while on September 11, then-No. 16 Illinois defeated top-ranked and two-time defending national champion USC, 3-2, ending the longest winning streak in NCAA volleyball history at 52 straight. The Illini topped the Women of Troy 30-24, 24-30, 12-30, 30-27, 15-8, which marked the first time in school history that the Orange and Blue defeated a number one team. Earlier this year, Minnesota dropped a 3-2 heartbreaker to then-No. 1 USC at the NACWAA Tournament.
Gentil Digging Away in Big Ten Record Books
After 73 digs over the weekend of October 15-16, Minnesota junior libero Paula Gentil has closed in on second place on the Big Ten all-time digs list with 1,713 career digs. Gentil is now just 207 digs out of second place and 218 away from the all-time Big Ten record. Gentil broke her own school record with 39 digs (13.0 dpg) against Michigan on September 25, bettering her previous high of 37 against then-No. 1 USC on August 28 in five games. Gentil's school record marked just the first time a League player has recorded 39 or more digs in a match since October 20, 1990.
Big Ten Ranks Among Nation's Best
As of October 10, the Big Ten boasted several of its teams and student-athletes at or near the top of the NCAA statistical rankings. Ohio State's Stacey Gordon leads the nation in kills per game (7.02), while teammate Marisa Main is first in the country in assists per game (14.98). In team categories, Ohio State leads the nation in assists per game (17.02) followed by Minnesota (16.19) at No. 4 and Purdue (16.08) at No. 5. OSU also holds the nation's top mark in kills per game (18.43) and second-best mark in hitting percentage (.332).
Gophers' Gentil and Lions' Walters Dig Down Deep
Two Big Ten student-athletes from two different teams were looking for one League record on October 2. Minnesota's Paula Gentil set the Big Ten record for digs in a match with 47, bettering the previous record of 44 set by Wisconsin's Susan Wohlford against Iowa on October 20, 1990. On the other side of the net, Penn State junior libero Kaleena Walters matched Wohlford's mark with a career-high and Penn State record 44 digs against the Gophers.
Gordon Extends Double-Figure Streak for Kills
Ohio State's Stacey Gordon has extended her double-figure kill streak to 94 after tallying double-digit totals in each of her two matches last weekend. For her career, she has double-figure kills in 107 of 109 matches.
Big Ten Boasts Winning Record Over Top-25 Teams
In the four total weeks of non-conference action, Big Ten teams were a combined 10-5 against top-25 competition. League teams defeated two top-10 teams, including then top-ranked USC (Illinois, 3-2), and posted a record of 7-4 against teams in the top-15. On three occasions, three different Big Ten teams defeated the 12th-ranked team, as Purdue and Wisconsin topped then-No. 12 Georgia Tech the first week of September, while Penn State topped No. 12 Stanford the week after.
Illini's Virtue to Miss Remainder of Season
Illinois senior setter Erin Virtue suffered a tear of her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her right knee late in the Illini's win over Ball State on September 17. The injury requires surgery, which will force the Honorable Mention All-American and Preseason All-Big Ten selection to miss the rest of the season. Virtue, who topped the 2,000 assist mark in just one-plus year as Illinois' starter, amassed 424 assists during the 2004 season before suffering the injury.
Gophers Say Just Bring It
Minnesota has built a record of 18-2 this season, with seven of those 20 matches coming against top 25 competition. The Gophers fell to No. 1 USC in a five-game heartbreaker in August, but have captured top-15 wins over No. 4 Penn State (3-2), No. 4 Florida (3-2), No. 11 Colorado State (3-1), and No. 15 Kansas State (3-2). USC is the two-time defending national champion, while Florida was a national semifinalist along with the Gophers last season. The Gophers fell to No. 16 Ohio State (3-1) on October 1, but have taken their last match against a ranked opponent in a 3-1 win over No. 23 Illinois. Currently, Minnesota holds a record of 5-2 versus top 20 teams and a 4-1 record against teams in the top 15.
Underclassmen Blocking Out the Competition
Six underclassmen, including two freshmen in the top three, currently lead the Conference in blocks. Only two juniors and two seniors can be found among the top 10 blockers in the League. Wisconsin freshman Taylor Reineke (1.39) leads the League, followed by junior teammate Sheila Shaw (1.38). Michigan freshman Lyndsay Miller (1.32) is third followed by Indiana junior Mandy Eberle at 1.28. Sophomores Kim Holm (PSU, 1.26) and Megan Bowman (MICH, 1.12) are fifth and sixth, Illinois' freshman Jen Hynds is seventh at 1.09 and sophomore PSU's Cassy Salyer rounds out the top eight at 1.09.
OSU's Stone Reaches No. 500
Ohio State head coach Jim Stone captured his 500th career win on September 17 when his Buckeyes defeated Northeastern, 3-1. The win ranks him fourth among active coaches in the League. A winner in his last 18 matches, Stone now has a career mark of 517-299 (.634).
Worth the Wait for Waite
Wisconsin head coach Pete Waite captured career win No. 400 on September 17 in a 3-0 sweep of Virginia. Waite, who is in his 17th year at the helm of the Badgers, ranks 35th all-time among active coaches with 407 wins, but ranks near the top 10 in winning percentage at .740 (407-143) overall.
Wolverines Go 3-0 For Rosen's 3-0-0
Michigan head coach Mark Rosen recorded his 300th career victory in a 3-0 defeat of Oakland University on September 11. The Wolverines captured the Michigan/Pepsi Challenge title that evening with a 3-0 sweep of Florida State. Rosen is now 308-112 (.733) in his 13th season as a head coach and has 99 wins at the Michigan helm, third-best on the all-time list.
The Sweet Smell of a Rose
Penn State opened its season September 3 with a 3-0 sweep of Rutgers, giving head coach Russ Rose his 800th career victory. The Nittany Lion mentor became only the sixth coach in Division I history to reach the 800-win plateau. Currently, Rose ranks second all-time among active coaches in winning percentage (.845, Hawaii's Dave Shoji-.850) and third all-time in victories (815).