Big Ten Volleyball Weekly Release - Nov. 15, 2011
Nov. 15, 2011
First Serve: Big Ten volleyball enters the final stretch of the regular season with just four matches remaining in conference play. Nebraska holds a one-match lead in the Big Ten standings, checking in at 14-2. Illinois and Purdue follow closely, standing at 13-3 in conference contests, while Penn State holds a 12-4 mark.
The Week That Was: Illinois and Purdue put together back-to-back wins last week to tighten up the race for the Big Ten Championship. The Boilermakers took down No. 2 Nebraska in three sets after defeating Iowa in five earlier in the week, while the Fighting Illini swept No. 9 Penn State and took a five-set decision against No. 22 Ohio State. The victories boosted Purdue's win streak to nine matches. The Big Ten housed several other upsets a week ago, as Wisconsin defeated No. 24 Michigan, 3-1, Northwestern took down No. 22 Ohio State, 3-2, and the Wolverines earned a straight-set win against No. 16 Minnesota.
Big Ten Championship in Sight: Nebraska has a chance to clinch at least a share of its first Big Ten title this weekend, but does not control its own destiny in the title hunt. If the Huskers win both of their matches and Illinois and Purdue each lose at least one match this week, then Nebraska will clinch at least a share. Nebraska can clinch the outright title if it wins both matches, Illinois loses both of its matches, Purdue loses both of its contests and Penn State loses to Indiana and defeats Purdue.
Purdue's Davis Earns National Honor: Purdue setter Rachel Davis has been named the Sports Imports/AVCA Division I National Player of the Week after leading the Boilermakers to back-to-back Big Ten wins a week ago. Davis recorded 51 assists and 21 digs in Purdue's five-set win over Iowa before recording 42 assists and helping the Boilermakers hit .410 as a team in three sets against then-No. 2 Nebraska. The award is the first of Davis' career and the second by a Purdue player this season after Ariel Turner took home the honor on Nov. 1.
Where We Rank: Seven Big Ten teams, the most of any conference in the nation, appear in the latest AVCA Division I Coaches Poll, with three squads earning top-10 status. Nebraska received top bidding among Big Ten teams, checking in at No. 4, while Illinois and Purdue also hold top-10 rankings, standing at Nos. 7 and 8, respectively. Penn State appears at No. 12 this week, while Minnesota holds No. 19, Michigan stands at No. 23, and Ohio State rounds out the poll at No. 25. Michigan State and Wisconsin are receiving votes in the poll.
The Ratings Are In: The Big Ten again leads the country in top-10 teams (four) and is tied for the lead in top-50 teams (eight) in the latest national RPI rankings. For the fifth consecutive week, Illinois holds the top spot in the rankings. Nebraska ranks third, while Purdue joins the top five at No. 5. Minnesota also moves up this week, checking in at No. 8, while Penn State stands at No. 12. Michigan ranks 22nd, followed by No. 38 Michigan State and No. 46 Ohio State in the top 50.
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 fouth nationally in points per set (5.45) and fifth in kills per set (4.82). Fellow Boilermaker Tiffany Fisher is ninth in hitting percentage (.402), while Minnesota's Mia Tabberson holds the same spot in assists per set (11.77).
Three's Company: Illinois, Nebraska and Penn State have each earned a No. 1 national ranking this season, marking the first time this season and just the third time since 1982 that a conference has had three different top-ranked teams in one season. The Pac-12 also boasts three top-ranked squads this season, as California, UCLA and current No. 1 USC have topped the poll in 2011. 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.