Oct. 30, 2006
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Intrastate Showdown Opens Action This Week
Intrastate rivals Illinois and Northwestern will take to the court in mid-week action on Wednesday in Champaign, Ill. Earlier this year, the Fighting Illini swept the Wildcats, 3-0, in Evanston.
Big Ten volleyball hits the court on Friday and Saturday with No. 14 Purdue involved in a pair of top 25 matchups. The Boilermakers will travel to No. 3 and conference leader Penn State on Friday and play No. 25 Ohio State in Columbus on Saturday.
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 leads the Big Ten contingent at No. 3, followed by No. 10 Wisconsin, No. 12 Minnesota, No. 14 Purdue and No. 25 Ohio State.
Badgers Knock Lions From Unbeaten Ranks
This past Friday, Wisconsin beat Penn State for the first time since 2003 and swept the Nittany Lions for the first time since 2001 and just the third time ever. With the win, the then-ranked No. 14 Badgers ended the then-No. 2 Nittany Lions' 41-match Big Ten winning streak.
Wisconsin's Simpson Earns National Honors
Big Ten Player of the Week Jackie Simpson, a junior setter at Wisconsin, was named Sports Imports/AVCA Division I National Player of the Week on Monday. Simpson earned the honor after helping lead the Badgers this past weekend to an upset of then-ranked No. 2 Penn State and a win over then-ranked No. 24 Ohio State. She is the second conference standout to earn the award this year as Penn State's Alisha Glass was honored on Sept. 11. Simpson is the third player from Wisconsin to ever receive the Sports Imports/AVCA National Player of the Week honor and the first Badger since 2001.
Big Ten Players & Teams Ranked in NCAA Stats
According to the latest NCAA stats, through Oct. 22, Penn State ranks first in hitting percentage (.319) and second in blocks (3.71), while Wisconsin (3.61) is fifth. Michigan State is sixth in kills (17.01) and eighth in assists (15.63). Illinois' Lizzie Bazzetta (14.01) is the highest-ranked conference standout as she ranks second in assists.
Wildcat Standout Sets NU Blocks Record
Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week Chelsy Hyser of Northwestern had the best blocking performance in the past six years in the Big Ten last weekend. Hyser broke Northwestern's single-match record for total blocks with 15, comprised of two solos and 13 blocks assists against Michigan. The 15 total blocks ties for the eighth-best total in conference history and is the best effort since Penn State's Robyn Guokas had 15 on Oct. 7, 2000. Additionally, Hyser's 13 block assists tied the NU single-match record held by Erika Lange, and again tied for the eighth-best total in conference history. In conference-only matches, Hyser is tied with four others with the second-best mark in Big Ten history. Four standouts share the top total of 16.
Successful Spartan Road Sweeps
With 3-0 wins over Illinois and Northwestern last week, Michigan State earned its first back-to-back conference road sweeps since the 2001 campaign. The Spartans return from a four-match conference road swing to host Minnesota and Wisconsin this week.
Reineke the Best Big Ten Blocker?
With just four weeks remaining in the Big Ten season, Wisconsin's Taylor Reineke currently stands as the conference's all-time leader in blocks per game. Reineke currently has an average of 1.95 blocks per game in conference-only matches, which is higher than Terri Zemaitis' mark of 1.91. The former Penn State standout set the record in 1996 with 19 block solos and 115 block assists in 70 games.
Lions "Hitting" on All Cylinders
No. 3 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 .314 clip, while the Buckeyes sit second at .288. Penn State sophomore Christa Harmotto (.424) and junior Melissa Walbridge (.399) are first and second, respectively, in the individual rankings.
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.