Top-25 Matchup Opens Action This Week

Nov. 6, 2006

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Top-25 Matchup Opens Action This Week
Conference leader and third-ranked Penn State will travel to No. 23 Ohio State this Wednesday for the mid-week match.  The Nittany Lions opened Big Ten play this season against the Buckeyes and earned a 3-0 sweep.

Big Ten volleyball hits the court on Friday and Saturday with nationally-ranked Minnesota, Ohio State, Purdue and Wisconsin hosting conference opponents.

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. 13 Minnesota, No. 16 Purdue and No. 23 Ohio State.  Michigan is currently receiving votes outside the top 25.

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 last week. Simpson earned the honor after helping lead the Badgers to an upset of then-ranked No. 2 Penn State and a win over then-ranked No. 24 Ohio State.  She was 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.  

Comcast to Televise Spartans vs. Hoosiers
Comcast SportsNet Chicago will be in Bloomington on Friday to broadcast Michigan State and Indiana, which takes place at 7 p.m. ET.  The match will air on a tape-delay basis on Saturday, Nov. 11, at 3 p.m. CT.
Big Ten Players & Teams Ranked in NCAA Stats
According to the latest NCAA stats, through Oct. 29, Penn State ranks first in hitting percentage (.314) and third in blocks (3.56), while Wisconsin (3.49) is fourth.  Michigan State is seventh in kills (17.03) and hitting percentage (.288) and eighth in assists (15.72).  Illinois' Lizzie Bazzetta (13.92) is the highest-ranked conference standout as she ranks second in assists.

Minnesota's Nelson Making History With Blocks
Minnesota senior Meredith Nelson recorded her 500th career block on Nov. 4 against Michigan, which made her just the third player in school history to record 500 blocks in a career.  Nelson is just 21st Big Ten standout to eclipse the mark and joins fellow Golden Gopher Pam Miller (15th, 536) on the list.

Northwestern's Anderson Eclipses 1,000 Kills
Northwestern junior Lindsay Anderson became the 17th member of the Wildcat 1,000-kills club last Wednesday at Illinois with her third 20+ kill effort of the season.  She is the first Wildcat to reach 1,000 kills since Erika Lange reached the plateau as a junior in 2002. Anderson is currently averaging 12.3 kills per match over her career, which puts her on pace to reach the top-5 all time in kills at NU.  Following a win against Illinois last Wednesday, Anderson helped NU to its first 2-0 week in the Big Ten this season with a career-best 17 digs to go along with 17 kills in a four-game win at Iowa.

Down But Not Out
This past weekend, Ohio State topped then-No. 14 Purdue, 3-0, but was forced to fight for a win in the second game.  The Buckeyes overcome three game points in game two against Purdue as the Boilermakers held a 29-26 lead.  A Felicia Jones kill (27), a Jones-Briana McCarthy block (28) and an Anna Szerszen service ace (29) tied the game at 29. Amy Stevens, with back-to-back kills, won the game for OSU, 31-29.

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 .321 clip, while the Buckeyes sit second at .280.  Penn State sophomore Christa Harmotto (.425) and junior Melissa Walbridge (.416) 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