Big Ten Volleyball Weekly Release - Oct. 26, 2009

Oct. 26, 2009

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Jenilee Rathje, Michigan State
So., Mount Pleasant, Mich.

After tearing her ACL in the 12th match of the season last year, redshirt sophomore Jenilee Rathje is back with a vengeance in 2009. During spring break last year, Rathje traveled to New York City to help feed and clothe the homeless. She also played with underprivileged children while helping to establish Athletes in Action ministries at other campuses. A Big Ten Distinguished Scholar recipient in 2008, Rathje spent some of the summer abroad in France, Spain and Belgium while working on her marketing degree.

Big Ten Polling Place
The Big Ten leads the AVCA coaches poll with three teams ranked in the top seven, including No. 1 Penn State. Illinois is up two spots from last week to No. 6, marking the team’s highest ranking since the Illini appeared in the same spot in the 1993 preseason poll. Minnesota also jumped two spots from last week to No. 7, giving the Gophers a top-10 ranking for the eighth straight week. Also in the poll, Michigan comes in at No. 13, and Michigan State is receiving votes outside the top 25.

Ripping Up the RPI
The Big Ten once again leads all conferences with four teams in the top 10 of the latest NCAA RPI report. Penn State fronts the conference at No. 3, followed by No. 4 Illinois, No. 5 Minnesota and No. 6 Michigan. Overall, eight Big Ten teams are in the RPI’s top 50, which is the second-highest total among all conferences, behind only the Pac-10’s nine. Big Ten teams in the top 50 are No. 23 Michigan State, No. 32 Ohio State, No. 43 Wisconsin and No. 45 Purdue. RPI is one of many tools used to select teams for the NCAA Championship.

How Sweep It Is
Ohio State’s wins against Indiana and Purdue over the weekend marked the Buckeyes’ first conference weekend sweep in 19 weeks, dating back to wins over Iowa (3-0) and Minnesota (3-2) in 2007. It also marked OSU’s first conference home sweep in 24 weeks, dating back to wins over Northwestern (3-0) and Illinois (3-0) in 2006.

Going Streaking
Penn State extended its NCAA-record winning streak to 86 matches over the weekend, also extending its conference winning streak to 55 matches and its overall home court winning streak to 66 matches.

Grand Fashion
Northwestern senior Kate Nobilio became the fifth player in Big Ten history to record 2,000 career digs with 15 saves against Iowa on Friday, and then moved into fourth on the Big Ten’s all-time list with 17 digs vs. Wisconsin on Saturday. The libero currently has 2,025 career digs.

Big Ten Block Party
Last year’s NCAA blocks leader, Illinois’ Johannah Bangert is once again atop the national rankings with a 1.67 bps average. The Big Ten has more players (five) than any other conference in the NCAA’s top 20 in blocks, including Penn State’s Arielle Wilson (6th, 1.53 bps) and Fatima Balza (15th, 1.39 bps), Minnesota’s Lauren Gibbemeyer (14th, 1.40 bps) and Northwestern’s Sabel Moffett (18th, 1.38 bps).

Full Coverage
Big Ten volleyball is enjoying vast coverage during the 2009 season with 23 matches broadcast nationally on the Big Ten Network, ESPN2 and ESPNU. In addition, 21 more matches are being streamed on The complete broadcast schedule can be found on Page 5 of this release.

Daily doses of Big Ten volleyball news can be found on the Big Ten Volleyball Blog, at Keep track of Big Ten volleyball in real-time by logging on to Twitter and following @BigTenConf and @BigTenVal.