Big Ten Volleyball Weekly Release - Nov. 5

Michigan's Jennifer Cross was named a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award.

Nov. 5, 2013

Rosemont, Ill. -

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Attached you will find the Big Ten volleyball weekly release, complete with updated standings, statistics, news and notes from around the conference.

BIG TEN MEDAL OF HONOR 100TH ANNIVERSARY SPOTLIGHT – Minnesota’s Cassie Busse: Busse earned the Big Ten Medal of Honor in 2004. She led Minnesota to four-straight NCAA Tournaments, including the national semifinals in 2003, where she was named to the Final Four All-Tournament Team. Busse was a two-time All-American, Academic All-American and first-team All-Big Ten honoree, and earned Academic All-Big Ten recognition three times. The opposite side hitter was the 2003 Big Ten Player of the Year and guided the Gophers to their only Big Ten Championship in 2002. The Shakopee, Minn., native ranks seventh in kills (1,502) and eighth in attack percentage (.294) and aces (168) in the Minnesota record book. Following her collegiate career, Busse joined the U.S. national team in 2005.

First Serve: Over halfway through the Big Ten season, Penn State sits atop the conference standings at 11-1. Nebraska follows in second at 10-2 while Minnesota is third at 9-3. Michigan State, Purdue and Wisconsin are tied for fourth with matching 7-5 Big Ten marks. The conference slate continues this week with seven matches featuring two teams ranked or receiving votes in the top-25 and seven tilts on BTN or BTDN.

Where We Rank: Nine Big Ten teams received recognition in this week’s AVCA Coaches’ poll, including seven in the top 20, which leads all conferences. The Big Ten is led by No. 2 Penn State, followed by No. 9 Minnesota, No. 11 Nebraska, No. 13 Michigan State, No. 14 Purdue, No. 16 Wisconsin and No. 17 Michigan. Illinois and Northwestern are also receiving votes. In the past two weeks, the Boilermakers have jumped seven spots in the poll. This week, the Spartans and Gophers each moved up one spot, while the Nittany Lions, Huskers and Wolverines remained at their respective ranking.

Reppin’ in the RPI: According to the latest RPI report released by the NCAA on Monday, 10 Big Ten teams appear in the top 50, including seven in the top 25, the most among all conferences. Penn State leads the way at No. 2, followed by No. 8 Nebraska, No. 10 Minnesota, No. 13 Wisconsin, No. 22 Michigan State, No. 23 Illinois, No. 25 Michigan, No. 30 Purdue, No. 40 Ohio State and No. 48 Northwestern.

Head of the CLASS: Michigan’s Jennifer Cross, Michigan State’s Lauren Wicinksi and Penn State’s Ariel Scott were three of 10 student-athletes selected as finalists for the 2013 Senior CLASS Award. The Big Ten’s three finalists was the most among all conferences. 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. 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.

Statistically Speaking: Numerous Big Ten standouts appear among the top 20 of the NCAA statistical leaders, which were released on Monday. Penn State’s Micha Hancock is second in the nation in aces per set (0.72). Teammate Katie Slay is fourth in blocks per set (1.60), while Michigan State’s Alexis Mathews is seventh (1.51). Mathews is also 14th in hitting percentage, swinging at a.426 clip. In kills per set, Ohio State’s Kaitlyn Leary ranks sixth (4.82) and Nebraska’s Kelsey Robinson is 16th (4.47). Leary is also 11th in points per set (5.16), followed by Michigan State’s Lauren Wicinski in 12th (5.13) and Robinson in 15th (5.05).  Teams in the top 10 include Penn State third in blocks pet set (3.01) and hitting percentage (.320) and Minnesota 10th in those same categories (2.90 blocks per set and .286 hitting percentage).