Oct. 30, 2012
First Serve: Penn State holds first place in the Big Ten standings entering the final month of regular-season competition at 11-1. The Nittany Lions sustained their first loss of the season on Sunday, a five-set loss to Nebraska. Minnesota, Nebraska and Ohio State are each within three matches of first place, as the Golden Gophers and Huskers are tied for second at 10-2, and the Buckeyes are fourth at 8-4.
The Week That Was: Fourth-ranked Nebraska took down top-ranked Penn State in a five-set thriller on Sunday, handing the Nittany Lions their first Big Ten loss. However, the Huskers fell to No. 20 Ohio State in four-sets on Friday, and still sit one game back in the standings. The Buckeyes also swept Iowa to earn their third win in a row, while No. 10 Minnesota swept Illinois and Northwestern to win its fourth straight match. No. 21 Purdue also picked up two wins last week, as the Boilermakers defeated Michigan (3-0) and Michigan State (3-2).
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. Penn State moves to No. 3, while for the second straight week, Nebraska and Minnesota appear at Nos. 4 and 10, respectively. Ohio State jumps four spots to No. 15 and Purdue is No. 22.
Where We Rank, Part Two: Nine Big Ten teams appear in the top 50 of the latest RPI rankings, released by the NCAA this week, which is tied for first among all conferences. Three Big Ten squads have earned spots in the top 10, with No. 2 Penn State leading the way. Nebraska follows at No. 3, while Minnesota checks in at No. 8. Ohio State and Purdue also hold top-25 rankings, as the Buckeyes are 20th and the Boilermakers are 21st. Michigan checks in at No. 31, followed by No. 35 Illinois, No. 38 Northwestern and No. 46 Michigan State.
Statistically Speaking: The Big Ten boasts several student-athletes in the NCAA top 10 in various statistical categories. Three of the top six performers in aces per set hail from Big Ten teams as Michigan State’s Lauren Wicinski is second (.58), Minnesota’s Daly Santana is fourth (.54) and Penn State’s Micha Hancock is sixth (.50). Wicinski is also among the leaders in points per set (5.34), ranking fifth nationally, while Hancock is 10th in assists per set (11.61). Two Big Ten standouts also rank among the top five in hitting percentage, as Minnesota’s Tori Dixon is third (.443) and Penn State’s Katie Slay is fifth (.434).
Don’t Touch That Dial: Ten of this week’s 12 matches will be broadcast live or streamed online. Wednesday’s Illinois-Purdue match and Friday’s Minnesota-Penn State contest will each be shown live at 8 p.m. ET on BTN, while Sunday’s Penn State-Wisconsin contest will air live at 2 p.m. on ESPN2. Additionally, seven of the conference’s matches 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.