Oct. 31, 2005
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Bookend Matches Highlight This Week's Schedule
A pair of nationally-ranked head-to-head conference battles will highlight this week's Big Ten volleyball schedule. On Wednesday, No. 19 Ohio State travels to No. 3 Penn State for a 7 p.m. first serve. The Nittany Lions are atop the Big Ten standings at 12-0, while the Buckeyes are tied for fourth at 8-4.
Saturday night's matchup between No. 15 Purdue and No. 10 Wisconsin is bound to shake up the conference standings as both teams are currently tied for second in the league at 9-3.
Five Big Ten Schools Ranked in Nation's Top 25
For the seventh consecutive week, five Big Ten teams are ranked in the CSTV/AVCA Top 25 Coaches Poll. Penn State (No. 3), Wisconsin (10), Purdue (15), Minnesota (17) and Ohio State (19) all found spots among the top 20 this week.
When 3-for-20 is a Good Thing...
With two wins this week, Minnesota (18-5) could become the third Big Ten team (PSU: 21-2, PUR: 20-3) with 20 or more wins this season, equaling the 15-team Big East as the only major conferences (ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10, SEC) that have three teams eclipse the mark. Currently, the Big Ten joins the Big East (3), Pac-10 and the SEC as major conferences with a pair of 20-win squads.
Five League Teams Rank Among Top 20 For Fans
In the unofficial national attendance figures, which are compiled weekly by the University of Wisconsin, the Big Ten boasts five teams among the top 20 schools in the nation, which is more than any other conference. Minnesota (No. 3) is currently averaging 4,049 patrons per match, while Wisconsin (4) and Penn State (7) follow in the top 10. Purdue (11) and Illinois (18) rank among the top 20 as well.
Four Conference Teams Televised This Week
Big Ten volleyball fans will have the opportunity to watch two conference matches this week as No. 19 Ohio State will battle at No. 3 Penn State and Iowa will travel to Michigan State.
The OSU/PSU match will be televised live on CSTV Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET. Comcast SportsNet Chicago will broadcast the Friday IOWA/MSU match on Saturday, Nov. 5, at 4:30 p.m. CT. The Hawkeyes (14-11) and Spartans (10-12) have already combined to total 24 wins, which is two more than the pair of teams (MSU: 12-16, IOWA: 10-22) had all season last year.
Big Ten Ranks Among NCAA Leaders
Several Big Ten standouts and teams are nationally ranked in many categories. As of Oct. 23, four student-athletes rank in the top 30 in assists and blocks per game, while three rank among the top 25 in digs and kills per game. Illinois' Rachel VanMeter (5.78) is the highest-ranked conference individual at No. 2 in kills per game. On the team side, four Big Ten squads rank among the top 30 in assists, blocks and kills per game, while three rank in hitting percentage. A complete breakdown is on page three.
Calling All Gopher Fans
Minnesota had its second-largest crowd in school history last week as 9,671 fans came to Williams Arena for Saturday's three-game win over Indiana. Last week's total is currently the highest-attended match in the country this season, outside the four matches at the two-day AVCA/NACWAA Showcase earlier this year. The Golden Gophers set the school record of 10,927 fans on Oct. 16 of last year against Illinois.
Christie Gardner broke Northwestern's all-time record for digs Saturday at No. 3 Penn State, recording 18 in the three-game match to give her 1,437 for her career. She overtook Janine Makar (1985-88), who had 1,430 during her stint at NU. Gardner put herself in position to break the record last week with 53 digs in eight games last week.
The Main Reason For Success
Ohio State's Marisa Main, who was named AVCA National Player of the Week last week after posting back-to-back Big Ten weekly honors, recorded her fifth triple-double of the season with 12 kills, 42 assists and 15 digs against Northwestern on Saturday. It was her fourth consecutive in league play.
Not Uncommon to Hit 20
As noted earlier, Penn State has eclipsed the 20-win mark already this season. The 2005 campaign marks the 29th consecutive season in the program's 30-year history that the Nittany Lions have reached 20 wins.
Purdue's Dave Shondell recorded his 50th victory as a collegiate head coach on Friday night against Michigan, which also gave the Boilermakers their first season sweep over the U-M since 1999. Purdue also moved to 20-3 on the season, marking its first 20 win season since 1990, and has now won eight of its nine straight matches in three games.