Nov. 13, 2012
First Serve: Big Ten volleyball enters the final stretch of the regular season with just four matches remaining in conference play. Penn State holds a three-match lead in the Big Ten standings, checking in at 15-1. Nebraska sits in second at 12-4, followed by Minnesota and Ohio State with 11-5 conference marks.
The Week That Was: Five Big Ten squads won back-to-back matches last week, as Michigan, Michigan State, No. 9 Nebraska, No. 15 Ohio State and No. 2 Penn State all earned two victories. The Nittany Lions swept Illinois and Northwestern, while the Buckeyes also defeated the Illini (3-2) and Wildcats (3-1). Michigan and Michigan State each defeated No. 10 Minnesota and Wisconsin. The Wolverines swept both matches, while the Spartans took down the Gophers in four sets and the Badgers in three. Nebraska defeated No. 21 Purdue in five sets and Indiana in four.
Closer to Clinching: Penn State controls its own destiny this weekend, as the Nittany Lions look to lock up their ninth Big Ten title in the last 10 years. Penn State can clinch at least a share of the title with a win on Friday. The Nittany Lions would claim the title outright with a win on Friday and a Nebraska loss, or back-to-back wins this weekend.
Ohio State’s Hole Earns National Honor: Ohio State outside hitter Mari Hole was named the Sports Imports/AVCA Division I National Player of the Week after leading the Buckeyes to back-to-back Big Ten wins. Hole recorded 19 kills on .395 hitting with 13 digs in a four-set win against Northwestern before posting 21 kills, including match point, and 12 digs against Illinois. The award is the second consecutive by a Big Ten student-athlete, as Penn State’s Micha Hancock was honored on Nov. 6. Hole becomes the eighth Buckeye to win National Player of the Week laurels, with the most recent honor going to Marissa Main on Oct. 24, 2005.
Where We Rank: The Big Ten once again boasts five ranked teams in the latest AVCA Coaches Poll. Penn State and Nebraska remain at Nos. 2 and 9, respectively, while Minnesota moves to No. 14. Ohio State checks in at No. 15 for the third consecutive week, and Purdue sits at No. 21. Michigan and Michigan State are receiving votes in the poll.
The Ratings Are In: The Big Ten leads all conferences with nine teams in the top 50 of the latest RPI rankings, released by the NCAA this week. Three Big Ten squads have earned spots in the top eight, with No. 2 Penn State leading the way. Nebraska follows at No. 4, while Minnesota checks in at No. 8. Ohio State and Purdue also hold top-25 rankings, as the Boilermakers are 20th and the Buckeyes are 23rd. Michigan checks in at No. 26, followed by No. 38 Michigan State, No. 40 Illinois and No. 50 Northwestern.
Don’t Touch That Dial: All 12 of this week’s matches will be broadcast live or streamed online. Friday’s Minnesota-Nebraska match will be televised live at 8 p.m. ET. Additionally, the other conference 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.