Big Ten Volleyball Weekly Release - Oct. 18, 2011
Oct. 18, 2011
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. This week's action features a showdown between the top two teams in the conference standings, as No. 1 Illinois and No. 4 Nebraska enter the week tied for first. The Fighting Illini visit Northwestern, and the Huskers host Iowa before the teams square off in Lincoln on Saturday night. Nine of this week's 12 Big Ten matches will be broadcast on streamed online.
The Week That Was: Illinois and Nebraska maintained their undefeated Big Ten records with back-to-back wins last week, while Penn State also earned two wins to take sole possession of third place. The Illini took a 3-1 decision over No. 20 Michigan on Wednesday before defeating Michigan State in five sets on Saturday. The Huskers hit the road last week, sweeping Wisconsin on Friday before earning a five-set win against No. 14 Minnesota on Saturday. The Nittany Lions also earned two road wins, taking a 3-1 decision over No. 11 Purdue and sweeping Indiana.
Top-Five Squads Square Off: Top-ranked Illinois and No. 4 Nebraska square off in a battle between top-five squads and potential unbeatens in the conference standings. The last time two top-five Big Ten teams met was on Nov. 13, 2009, when then-top-ranked and eventual national champion Penn State defeated No. 5 Illinois, 3-0.
Midweek Madness: All 12 Big Ten squads will compete on Wednesday night for the first time this season, with six regional matchups taking place. Indiana travels to No. 12 Purdue, and No. 23 Ohio State visits No. 9 Penn State at 7 p.m. ET. Northwestern hosts top-ranked Illinois, while No. 4 Nebraska welcomes Iowa, No. 21 Michigan travels to take on intrastate foe Michigan State and No. 14 Minnesota visits Wisconsin at 8 p.m. The Michigan-Michigan State match will be shown live on BTN, while the other five contests will be streamed live on www.BTN.com.
Where We Rank: Illinois remains the top-ranked team in the nation in this week's AVCA Division I Volleyball Coaches Poll, earning the No. 1 ranking for the fourth consecutive week. Nebraska moves up one place to No. 4 this week, while Penn State holds its spot in the top 10, checking in at No. 9 for the second straight week. Purdue holds No. 12 in the latest rankings, followed by No. 14 Minnesota, No. 21 Michigan and No. 23 Ohio State. The seven top-25 teams again give the Big Ten the most ranked squads of any conference in the country.
Statistically Speaking: The Big Ten boasts top-10 performers in nearly every major statistical category. Penn State's Micha Hancock is second nationally in aces per set (0.82), while Minnesota's Mia Tabberson holds a top-five average in assists per set, standing in fifth (11.89). Purdue's Tiffany Fisher is sixth in hitting percentage (.424), while fellow Boilermaker Ariel Turner ranks seventh in kills (4.68) and points per set (5.41). Minnesota's Ashley Wittman also appears in the top 10 nationally in kills, holding ninth (4.62).
Big Ten Rates Well in First RPI: The NCAA released its first RPI rankings this week, with nine Big Ten teams appearing in the top 50. Three conference squads have earned spots in the top four, with top-ranked Illinois leading the way. Nebraska follows at No. 2, while Minnesota checks in at No. 4. Michigan, Purdue and Penn State each hold top-20 rankings as the Wolverines are 15th, the Boilermakers are 16th and the Nittany Lions are 19th.
We've Got You Covered: There are several ways to follow Big Ten volleyball. The Big Ten volleyball blog can be accessed directly here 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.