Oct. 23, 2012
First Serve: Big Ten volleyball teams reached the midway point of the conference season last weekend, as each squad played its 10th match of the 20-match slate. Penn State remains undefeated in the conference standings, with Nebraska and Minnesota each within two games of the Nittany Lions. All 12 of this week’s matches will be nationally broadcast or streamed online.
The Week That Was: Minnesota, Nebraska and Penn State earned back-to-back wins last week to maintain their spots in the conference standings. The Gophers swept Wisconsin and defeated No. 17 Purdue (3-1), Nebraska swept Iowa and No. 25 Illinois, and Penn State took down No. 20 Ohio State (3-0) and Michigan (3-2). Indiana also picked up two conference victories last week, defeating both No. 17 Purdue and Wisconsin in four sets.
Where We Rank: The Big Ten is once again well- represented in the latest AVCA Coaches Poll with five ranked teams, including two of the top four squads. Four conference teams remained in the same position as last week, led by No. 1 Penn State. The Nittany Lions top the poll for the fifth straight week, followed by No. 4 Nebraska and No. 10 Minnesota. Ohio State comes in at No. 20, while Purdue is No. 21. Illinois and Michigan State are receiving votes outside the top 25.
CLASS Act’s: Nebraska’s Gina Mancuso and Purdue’s Ariel Turner were two of 10 volleyball student-athletes selected last week as finalists for the 2012 Senior CLASS Award. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. The Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced during the 2012 NCAA Division I Volleyball Championships, which will be held on December 13 and 15 in Louisville, Ky.
Top-Five Squads Square Off: Top-ranked Penn State and No. 4 Nebraska square off in a battle between top-five squads, and currently the top two teams in the conference standings. The Huskers look to rebound from a 3-1 defeat on Sept. 19 in University Park, as they welcome the Nittany Lions to Lincoln, Neb., on Sunday.
Statistically Speaking: The Big Ten boasts several student-athletes in the NCAA top 10 in various statistical categories. Three of the top five performers in aces per set hail from Big Ten teams as Michigan State’s Lauren Wicinski is second (.58), Minnesota’s Daly Santana is third (.55) and Penn State’s Micha Hancock is fifth (.51). Wicinski is also among the leaders in points per set (5.38), ranking fourth nationally. Four Big Ten standouts rank among the top 10 in hitting percentage, as Penn State’s Katie Slay is fourth (.445), Minnesota’s Tori Dixon is sixth (.440), Illinois’ Anna Dorn ranks ninth (.415) and Nebraska’s Meghan Haggerty is 10th (.415). Northwestern’s Madalyn Shalter also sits among the NCAA leaders, ranking 10th in assists per set (11.58).
Don’t Touch That Dial: All 12 of this week’s Big Ten matches will be broadcast live or streamed online. Wednesday’s Iowa-Penn State match (8 p.m. ET), Friday’s Michigan-Purdue contest (8 p.m.) and Sunday’s Nebraska-Penn State contest (3 p.m.) will each be shown live on BTN. The rest of the Big Ten slate will be streamed live at www.BTN.com.
We’ve Got You Covered: Now there are more ways than ever to follow Big Ten volleyball. The Big Ten volleyball blog can be accessed directly at www.bigten.org/blog/volleyball 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.