Nov. 19, 2007
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Big Ten volleyball enters the final week of the regular season and will play three matches on the Big Ten Network. The No. 1 team in the nation, Penn State clinched its fifth straight conference title over the weekend, posting wins over No. 9 Wisconsin and Illinois.
Big Ten on TV
Three Big Ten matches will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network this week, beginning Monday as Ohio State hosts Wisconsin at 7 p.m. CT. The Buckeyes will reach a national audience again on Wednesday as they welcome Big Ten Champion Penn State for a 7 p.m. CT contest. The Nittany Lions will appear in the Big Ten Network's final volleyball broadcast of the season as they travel to Michigan on Saturday for a 4 p.m. CT event. The match will be tape-delayed and will air on Sunday at 5 p.m. CT.
PSU Clinches Big Ten Title
Penn State became the first program in Big Ten history to win five straight conference championships with wins over Wisconsin and Illinois over the weekend. The 3-1 victory over the Badgers on Friday secured the Nittany Lions a share of the crown, while their sweep of Illinois on Saturday gave them the outright title.
Hebert Earns 300th Win at Minnesota
Minnesota head coach Mike Hebert earned his 300th win with the Golden Gophers as his squad bested Northwestern, 3-0 on Saturday. Hebert is the only head coach in Big Ten history to own 300 wins with two different conference programs as he also compiled 323 victories at the helm of Illinois from 1983-1995.
Edinger & Pierce Break School Records
Illinois Sophomore Ashley Edinger broke her school's record for digs in a single season, now with 531 on the year, besting the previous mark of 520. Edinger has 1,019 saves in her career and is seventh on the school's all-time list. Indiana senior Juli Pierce broke the Hoosiers' all-time single-season digs record with nine saves on Wednesday and added to her total with 10 more on Saturday. Pierce has recorded 452 digs this season, besting the program's previous record of 436.
Big Ten Freshmen Making Big Impacts
In their first seasons on the court, several Big Ten freshmen are having big impacts on their teams. Illinois' Laura DeBruler is on pace to become just the fourth freshman in history to lead the conference in kills per game, currently averaging 5.00 in Big Ten matches. Indiana's Ashley Benson has recorded 130 stuffs this season, setting a new Hoosier freshman mark. Michigan's Lexi Zimmerman (13.41 apg) and Michigan State's Lauren O'Reilly (13.21) are first and second in the conference, respectively, in assists per game in all matches played. Minnesota's Brook Dieter is 44 digs away from becoming the first Gopher freshman since 1989 to record 300 kills and 300 digs in a single season, while teammate Meredith Nelson's 106 stuffs are the most blocks by a Minnesota freshman since 2003. Penn State's Arielle Wilson is on pace to become the first freshman since 2003 and the second ever to lead the Big Ten in blocks, owning 1.86 per conference game.
Big Ten Ranks Strong in NCAA RPI
The Big Ten is the only conference in NCAA Division I with eight teams in the top 50 of the latest RPI rankings, issued last Friday. Penn State leads the conference at No. 3, while Wisconsin also sits inside the top 10 at No. 6. Michigan and Purdue fall inside the top 25 at 23 and 24, respectively, followed by No. 29 Minnesota, No. 33 Michigan State, No. 45 Indiana and No. 49 Illinois.
Big Ten in the Polls
After clinching the Big Ten title, Penn State remains the No. 1 team in the nation for the fourth week in a row. Despite falling to the Nittany Lions, Wisconsin remains steady at No. 9, marking the 13th time this season that at least two Big Ten teams are among the country's top 10. Michigan, Minnesota and Purdue are all receiving national recognition with votes outside the top 25.