Big Ten Volleyball Weekly Release - Nov. 26

Katie Slay

Nov. 26, 2013

Rosemont, Ill. -

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Attached you will find the Big Ten volleyball weekly release, complete with updated standings, statistics, news and notes from around the conference.

BIG TEN MEDAL OF HONOR 100TH ANNIVERSARY SPOTLIGHT – Wisconsin’s Morgan Shields: A 2004 recipient of the Big Ten Medal of Honor, Shields was a four-year letterwinner for Wisconsin, leading the Badgers to two Big Ten Championships and four NCAA Tournament appearances. The setter ranks first in Wisconsin history in assists per set (12.82) and fourth in total assists (4,076). She is also tied for third in service aces per set (0.35). Shields was tabbed a third-team All-American in 2002 and an Academic All-District pick in 2003. The Watertown, Wis., native was a two-time All-Big Ten selection and Academic All-Big Ten honoree. Following graduation, Shields played professionally in Sweden and Portugal. In 2004, she played and served as the head coach with Katrinehoms VC and in 2005, she competed with Club Academio VC.

First Serve: Each school will play in two conference matches this week, in the final action of the 2013 Big Ten volleyball regular season. The NCAA Championship field is set to be announced on Sunday. This week’s slate includes five matches featuring two teams ranked in the top 25, including a top-10 battle between No. 2 Penn State and No. 10 Nebraska on Saturday night. Five of the 12 tilts will appear on BTN or BTDN.

Familiar Title Territory: Penn State clinched at least a share of the Big Ten Championship with its 3-1 win over Illinois last Saturday night. The title marks the Nittany Lions’ 10th crown in the last 11 years and 16th overall. Penn State can earn the outright title and the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA Championship with a win over Ohio State or Nebraska this week.

Still In The Hunt: Nebraska still has a chance to clinch at least a share of the Big Ten Championship. If Nebraska beats Iowa and Ohio State downs Penn State on Wednesday, the Huskers must then defeat the Nittany Lions in their regular season finale on Saturday. If that is the case, both teams would end the season with matching 17-3 Big Ten records and Nebraska would earn the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA Championship due to the head-to-head win.

Where We Rank: Eight Big Ten teams were ranked in this week’s AVCA Coaches’ Top 25 poll, which leads all conferences. The Big Ten is led by No. 2 Penn State, followed by No. 10 Nebraska, No. 11 Minnesota, No. 13 Wisconsin, No. 18 Illinois, No. 19 Michigan State, No. 20 Purdue and No. 23 Michigan. The Boilermakers jumped five positions, while the Illini and Badgers moved up two spots in the poll.

Reppin’ in the RPI: According to the latest RPI report released by the NCAA on Monday, eight Big Ten teams appear in the top 30, the most among all conferences. Penn State leads the way at No. 2, followed by No. 8 Nebraska, No. 13 Minnesota, No. 14 Wisconsin, No. 17 Illinois, No. 27 Michigan State, No. 28 Michigan and No. 29 Purdue.

Top-25 Tilts: So far this season, 44 of the 108 conference matches have featured two teams in the top 25 (41 percent). Sixty-two of the 108 tilts (57 percent) have featured two squads ranked or receiving votes in the national poll. Minnesota will end this week having played five consecutive matches against squads ranked in the top 25.

Statistically Speaking: Numerous Big Ten standouts appear among the top 10 of the NCAA statistical leaders. Penn State’s Micha Hancock is second in the nation in aces per set (0.66), while teammate Katie Slay is third in blocks per set (1.62). Ohio State’s Kaitlyn Leary is fourth in kills per set (4.88) and eighth in points per set (5.20), while Michigan State’s Lauren Wicinski is ninth in points (5.19). As a team, Penn State is second is blocks per set (3.07) and third in hitting percentage (.314). Minnesota is also in the top 10 in hitting percentage, ranking ninth (.289).