Big Ten Volleyball Weekly Release - Nov. 8, 2011
Nov. 8, 2011
First Serve: Nebraska remains atop the Big Ten standings with just three weeks of regular-season competition remaining, boasting a 13-1 conference record. Illinois, Penn State and Purdue each stand two matches behind the Huskers with identical 11-3 marks in conference play. The Fighting Illini host the Nittany Lions on Friday, while the Huskers visit the Boilermakers on Saturday in a pair of top-10 matchups.
The Week That Was: Nebraska won matches against No. 23 Michigan and Michigan State, taking a 3-1 decision over the Wolverines and defeating the Spartans, 3-0, to extend its Big Ten lead. Purdue also won back-to-back contests last week, taking down No. 5 Illinois (3-1) and Northwestern (3-0) to climb into a tie for second place in the Big Ten. The Boilermakers moved their winning streak to seven matches with a win over Northwestern.
Where We Rank: Big Ten volleyball is once again well-represented in the AVCA Divison I Coaches Poll, with seven teams earning top-25 status and four squads appearing in the top 10 in the latest edition. The seven top-25 squads are again good for the national lead, while four top-10 teams ties the Big Ten with the Pac-12 for the most of any conference in the country. Nebraska leads the way for the Big Ten, checking in at No. 2 for the second consecutive week. Illinois follows at No. 7, while Penn State stands at No. 9 and Purdue cracks the top 10 for the first time this season at No. 10. Minnesota holds No. 16 this week, while Ohio State follows at No. 22 and Michigan stands at No. 24. Michigan State is also receiving votes this week.
The Ratings Are In: Illinois again leads the way in the national RPI, with seven other Big Ten teams earning spots in the top 50. Nebraska follows at No. 2 again this week, while Purdue continues its ascent, moving up four spots to No. 6. Minnesota gives the Big Ten a fourth top-10 team for the second straight week, ranking ninth. The four top-10 teams are the most of any conference in the country. Rounding out the top-50 contingent for the conference are No. 15 Penn State, No. 21 Michigan, No. 35 Michigan State and No. 41 Ohio State.
20-20 Vision: With a 3-0 triumph over Michigan State on Saturday, Nebraska earned its 20th win of the season, becoming the third Big Ten team to reach the mark this year. Illinois and Purdue each boast 22 wins to give the conference three 20-win teams with three weeks remaining in the regular season. Seven other teams can reach the 20-win mark in the 2011 regular season, as Penn State and Michigan State have won 18 matches, Michigan and Ohio State have won 17 and Minnesota, Northwestern and Wisconsin have won 14.
Statistically Speaking: The Big Ten boasts top-10 performers in nearly every major NCAA statistical category. Penn State's Micha Hancock is second in the country in aces per set (0.82), while Purdue's Ariel Turner is third nationally in points per set (5.52) and fifth in kills per set (4.86). Fellow Boilermaker Tiffany Fisher is sixth in hitting percentage (.410), while Minnesota's Mia Tabberson holds the same spot in assists per set (11.85).
Three's Company: Illinois, Nebraska and Penn State have each earned a No. 1 national ranking this season, marking just the third time since 1982 that a conference has had three different top-ranked teams in one season. The Pac-10 accomplished the feat in 2004 with Stanford, USC and Washington, while the WCAA did the same in 1984 with Stanford, UCLA and USC.
Big Ten Bits: Standing at 22-3 overall, Purdue has compiled its best 25-match record since 1985 when the Boilermakers went 23-2 ... Penn State's Micha Hancock set the school record for service aces in a single season, blasting her 75th of the year against Minnesota. Hancock is just three aces away from cracking the Big Ten's single-season top 10.