Nov. 20, 2012
First Serve: The final matches of the Big Ten volleyball season will be held this weekend, with the NCAA Championship field set to be announced on Sunday. Penn State earned the outright Big Ten Championship last Friday, claiming the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA tournament.
The Week That Was: No. 2 Penn State clinched its ninth Big Ten title in the last 10 years with a three-set win at Indiana on Friday. The Nittany Lions also defeated No. 21 Purdue (3-1) on Saturday to earn their sixth straight victory. Michigan State, Minnesota and Ohio State also won back-to-back matches over the weekend. The Spartans defeated Illinois (3-2) and swept Northwestern, the Gophers defeated No. 9 Nebraska (3-2) and Iowa (3-0), and the Buckeyes earned road wins at Purdue (3-0) and Indiana (3-1).
Penn State Clinches Title: Penn State claimed the Big Ten title on Friday, earning the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA Championship. The Nittany Lions defeated Indiana by a score of 25-12 in the first set, following with a 25-18 win in Set 2 and a 25-22 victory to clinch the match and conference crown. Ariel Scott led the Nittany Lions with 12 kills, while Dominique Gonzalez and Micha Hancock each notched eight digs to lead the team.
Statistically Speaking: The Big Ten boasts several student-athletes in the NCAA top 10 in various statistical categories. Three of the top eight performers in aces per set hail from Big Ten teams as Michigan State’s Lauren Wicinski is third (.66), Penn State’s Micha Hancock is fourth (.54) and Minnesota’s Daly Santana is eighth (.50). Wicinski is also among the leaders in points per set (5.29), ranking ninth nationally. Two Big Ten standouts also rank among the top six in hitting percentage, as Minnesota’s Tori Dixon is third (.438) and Penn State’s Katie Slay is sixth (.429).
Statistically Speaking, Part Two: In the team rankings, Penn State is fourth in hitting percentage (.302) and 10th in blocks per set (2.94). Minnesota ranks sixth in hitting percentage (.301), while Nebraska is 10th (.289). Michigan State also cracks the top 10 nationally, ranking 10th in aces per set (1.65).
Where We Rank: The Big Ten once again boasts five ranked teams in the latest AVCA Coaches Poll, including No. 1 Penn State. Nebraska moves to No. 10, while Minnesota climbs to No. 11. Ohio State rises to No. 14 and Purdue sits at No. 22. 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 seven, with No. 2 Penn State leading the way. Nebraska follows at No. 5, while Minnesota checks in at No. 7. Ohio State and Purdue also hold top-30 rankings, as the Buckeyes are 20th and the Boilermakers are 26th. Michigan checks in at No. 33, followed by No. 35 Michigan State, No. 38 Illinois and No. 47 Northwestern.
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.