Nov. 14, 2005
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Penn State Clinches Outright Big Ten Title
With a 3-0 win over Illinois last Saturday, No. 2 Penn State (25-2, 16-0) captured its third consecutive Big Ten title outright and its ninth in 15 years since joining the league. The Nittany Lions were aided by Minnesota defeating Wisconsin in Minneapolis on Saturday, which gave the Badgers their fifth loss of the season, securing the outright title for the Lions, who have four conference contests remaining.
Penn State will be able to thank the Gophers in person this week as the Lions host No. 19 Minnesota (21-6, 11-5) on Friday at 6 p.m. Also on tap this week for the Gophers is a Saturday night matchup against No. 17 Ohio State (18-7, 11-5). The week begins with Purdue (21-6, 10-6) at Illinois (13-14, 4-12) on Wednesday, with first serve coming at 7 p.m. CT.
With Trophy Secured, PSU Now Looking at 20-0
Since 1985 when double round-robin play was instituted in the Big Ten, only five times has the conference champion gone undefeated. Penn State, which clinched the outright league title last week, recorded perfect 20-0 seasons in 1998 and 1999 and is four wins away from its third perfect season in Big Ten play.
1986 Illinois 18-0
1988 Illinois 18-0
1991 Ohio State 20-0
1998 Penn State 20-0
1999 Penn State 20-0
Five Big Ten Schools Ranked in Nation's Top 20
For the ninth consecutive week, five Big Ten teams are ranked in the CSTV/AVCA Top 25 Coaches Poll. No. 2 Penn State earned its season-best ranking, while Wisconsin (15), Ohio State (17), Purdue (18) and Minnesota (19) all found spots among the top 20 this week. Winners of four-straight Big Ten matches for the first time since 1988, Northwestern has caught the voters' eye and is now receiving votes for the first time since Sept. 5.
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 3,968 patrons per match, while Wisconsin (4), Penn State (6) and Purdue (9) follow in the top 10. Illinois rounds out the Big Ten contingent in 20th.
Badgers and Buckeyes Look to Join 20-Win Club
With one win this week, Wisconsin (19-6) could become the fourth Big Ten team (PSU: 25-2, PUR: 21-6, MINN: 21-6) with 20 or more wins this season, trailing the 15-team Big East (5 teams) as the only major conference (ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10, SEC) that has had four teams eclipse the mark. The Big Ten had five teams conclude the 2004 campaign with 20 or more wins. Currently, Ohio State is 18-7 overall, just two victories shy of the mark.
Comcast SportsNet to Air Minnesota-Penn State
Comcast SportsNet Chicago will broadcast the Minnesota at Penn State matchup this week that will take place on Friday at 6 p.m. CT. The tape-delay airing of the match can be seen on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. CT. In the teams' first meeting this season, Big Ten champion Penn State swept the Golden Gophers on Oct. 22.
Big Ten Ranks Among NCAA Leaders
Several Big Ten standouts and teams are nationally ranked in many categories. As of Nov. 6, three student-athletes rank in the top 30 in assists, blocks, digs and kills, while one ranks in the top 30 in hitting percentage. Illinois' Rachel VanMeter (5.67) is the highest-ranked conference individual at No. 4 in kills per game. On the team side, four Big Ten squads rank among the top 30 in assists and blocks, while three rank in kills and two rate in hitting percentage.
Two Standouts Eyeing Career Top-10 in Assists
A pair of Big Ten standouts -- Penn State's Sam Tortorello and Purdue's Renata Dargan -- is quickly approaching the league's career mark for assists. Currently, Tortorello has 5,787 career assists, which ranks seventh in conference history. Dargan's total of 5,632 is eighth-best all-time in the league. Both players have a legitimate shot at breaking the Big Ten's all-time career assists mark of 6,024, currently held by Minnesota's Sharon Oesterling from 1986-89.