Oct. 23, 2006
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Hoosiers and Boilermakers to Battle Mid-Week
Intrastate rivals Indiana and Purdue will hit the court Wednesday for a mid-week battle. The 13th-ranked Boilermakers, who swept Indiana in Bloomington earlier this month, welcome the Hoosiers to West Lafayette at 7 p.m.
Big Ten volleyball hits the court on Friday, Saturday and Sunday this week with the conference finale featuring No. 24 Ohio State at No. 14 Wisconsin at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
Last week's conference matches marked the halfway point of the Big Ten season. Despite being an undefeated 21-0 on the year, Penn State (10-0) holds just a one-match lead over second-place Minnesota (9-1). Two games behind the Gophers are 7-3 squads Purdue and Wisconsin, tied for third.
Penn State Still Perfect
At 21-0, second-ranked Penn State is one of only two undefeated teams in the country, joining top-ranked Nebraska (18-0). Last year, Purdue was the last Big Ten team to remain undefeated at 11-0, while Ohio State stretched its start out to 19-0 in 2004 before suffering its first loss.
Five Schools Ranked in Nation's Top 25
Five Big Ten volleyball teams are ranked in the top 25 of the CSTV/AVCA Coaches Poll. Penn State, which earned 17 first-place votes, leads the Big Ten contingent at No. 2, followed by No. 12 Minnesota, No. 13 Purdue, No. 14 Wisconsin and No. 24 Ohio State.
Second in Streaks
With a pair of victories this past weekend, Penn State won its 41st consecutive Big Ten match, which ranks second all-time in conference history. The Nittany Lions eclipsed Illinois' streak of 40 from 1985-87 and now trail their own streak of 49, which they set between 1997-99.
TOP FIVE CONSECUTIVE BIG TEN WIN STREAKS
Team Streak Dates Snapped By
Penn State 49 (11/1/97-11/27/99) at WIS (9/22/00)
Penn State 41 (10/22/04-present) ???
Illinois 40 (11/15/85-11/20/87) at PUR (11/27/87)
Illinois 25 (10/2/92-10/9/93) vs. PSU (10/15/93)
Ohio State 24 (11/17/90-11/29/91) vs. ILL (9/25/92)
Big Ten Players & Teams Ranked in NCAA Stats
According to the latest NCAA stats, through Oct. 15, Penn State ranks second in hitting percentage (.331) and blocks (3.69), while Michigan State is second in kills (17.53) and fourth in assists (16.08). Wisconsin is currently third in blocks (3.61). Illinois' Lizzie Bazzetta (13.83) is the highest-ranked conference standout as she ranks second in assists.
A Sign of Things to Come
If Minnesota's Big Ten record at the halfway point in the conference season is a sign of success for the remainder of the season, the Golden Gophers should be quite happy. Minnesota's 9-1 record ties its best mark in school history for the first half of a Big Ten season. The Golden Gophers started 9-1 in 2000, 2002 and 2004, which led to school-record 17-3 Big Ten season in all three years.
Lions "Hitting" on All Cylinders
No. 2 Penn State currently holds a commanding lead over Michigan State in overall hitting percentage and boasts the top-two hitting individuals as well. The Nittany Lions rank first with a .319 clip, while the Buckeyes sit second at .282. Penn State sophomore Christa Harmotto (.420) and junior Melissa Walbridge (.379) sit first and second, respectively, in the individual rankings.
In addition to Nittany Lion sophomore Chrsita Harmotto's conference-best hitting percentage, at least one underclassman can be found in the top two of all the major statistical categories. Illinois sophomore Kayani Turner (4.97) and Penn State freshman Megan Hodge (4.91) are first and second, respectively, in kills, while Illini sophomore Lizzie Bazzetta (14.01) and Minnesota sophomore Rachel Hartmann (13.19) rank 1-2 in assists. Northwestern freshman Kate Nobilio (5.14) is second in digs, while Harmotto (1.64) is second-best in blocks. Her teammate, sophomore Roberta Holehouse (0.42), is second overall in service aces.
Illini Standout Stars in Big Ten Campaign
Beth Vrdsky, a senior specialist on the Illinois squad, is one of 11 selected student-athletes that will be the face of the Big Ten Conference this year as it celebrates its 25th Anniversary of Women's Championships. Vrdsky has been featured in a 30-second public service announcement "sharing her story" about her dreams of becoming a fighter pilot. To learn more about Vrdsky, as well as the conference's year-long campaign, log on to bigten.org.