Oct. 18, 2010
Faces of the Big Ten
Stephanie Nucci, Minnesota
Jr., S, Gilbert, Ariz./Gilbert
Prior to transferring to Minnesota, Stephanie graduated from UCLA in three years after coming in with no college credits. She is getting her masters in kinesiology (sports management) at Minnesota. In high school, she played her varsity season in her hometown of Gilbert, Ariz., and her club season in Chicago for the Sport Performance club. She lived with her aunt Sue Nucci who played for current Minnesota coach Mike Hebert from 1991-94 at the University of Illinois, while she played club in Chicago.
Nearing the halfway point of the conference season, two conference squads are tied at the top of the standings with 7-1 records, while two more trail by just two matches. Michigan and Illinois remain tied at the top of the conference with Penn State and Northwestern close behind. This weekend, Big Ten volleyball will enjoy extensive national broadcast coverage as eight of the 11 contests this week will be televised by ESPN2, the Big Ten Network or streamed online at www.bigtennetwork.com.
Where We Rank
Seven Big Ten Conference teams are mentioned in the latest AVCA Coaches Poll, including five in the top 25. Illinois and Penn State rank in the top 10, with the Illini checking in at No. 6, up two spots from last week, and the Nittany Lions remaining at No. 9. Michigan moves up two spots to No. 13, Minnesota is No. 20, and Northwestern appears at No. 22. Ohio State and Purdue are also receiving votes in this week’s poll.
Up in the RPI
The latest Ratings Percentage Index (RPI), the Big Ten led all conferences with four teams in the top 10, and each conference squad ranked among the top 60 in the list. Illinois and Penn State each appeared in the top five, Illinois at No. 3 and Penn State at No. 5, while Northwestern and Minnesota ranked ninth and 10th, respectively. The RPI is one of several tools used to select teams for the NCAA Championship.
No Place Like Home
Three Big Ten teams are among the nation’s top 10 in active home-court winning streaks. Penn State tops the list with 84 consecutive home triumphs, Illinois is sixth overall with 18 straight wins, and Michigan ranks eighth with 16 straight victories. The three teams are undefeated on their home courts this season, boasting a combined 27-0 record. Four other teams have suffered just one home defeat this season, and each conference squad boasts a .500 or better mark at home.
Thanks To the Fans
Big Ten fans continue to be some of the most dedicated in the nation with four Big Ten squads ranking among the top eight teams in average home attendance this season. Additionally, nine of the top 30 schools in home attendance hail from the Big Ten, and four conference schools average 2,500 or more fans per contest. Wisconsin ranks third nationally with 3,807 fans per contest, followed immediately by Penn State (3,705) and Minnesota (2,949), with Illinois at No. 8 (2,567).
Three Big Ten volleyball student-athletes were named finalists for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award for volleyball. The award is given annually to outstanding seniors who have demonstrated excellence in four areas – community, classroom, character and competition. Illinois’ Laura DeBruler, Minnesota’s Lauren Gibbemeyer and Penn State’s Arielle Wilson are among this year’s finalists. Fans can log on to www.seniorclassaward.com and vote once a day through Nov. 23, as one-third of fans’ votes will be used, along with votes from national media and coaches, to determine this year’s winner, which will be announced during the 2010 NCAA Championship.
Got You Covered
This season, Big Ten women’s volleyball will enjoy extensive television coverage, with 25 matches being broadcast nationally. The Big Ten Network is televising 22 conference volleyball matchups, while ESPN2 will showcase three contests this season. Additionally, the Big Ten Network will stream numerous matches online at www.bigtennetwork.com.
Also, for up to the minute news and notes on Big Ten volleyball, log on to the Big Ten Volleyball Blog at http://www.bigten.org/blog/volleyball/ or follow on Twitter at @BigTenDan.