NCAA Volleyball Action Gets Underway on Friday

Nov. 27, 2007

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The Big Ten Conference will send six teams to the 2007 NCAA Volleyball Championship. Action gets underway on Friday as Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin each host first- and second-round action.

Big Ten NCAA Championship Notes

The Big Ten will send six teams to the NCAA Championship, which ties the Big 12 and the Pac-10 for the nation's largest conference representation.

This season marks the 13th time in conference history the Big Ten has had six or more teams selected to the NCAA Championship.  The conference sent a record eight teams to the NCAAs in 1999 and 2002, boasted seven NCAA participants in 1995, 2003 and 2004 and 2006, and sent six squads in 1994, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001 and 2005. In the 27-year history of the event, the Big Ten has had five or more teams selected to the bracket on 17 occasions.

The Big Ten is 61-36 (.629) when sending six teams to the NCAA Championship. With six squads in the bracket, the Big Ten is 27-5 (.844) in first-round matches.

The Big Ten holds an overall NCAA Championship record of 190-117 (.619), dating back to 1983.  The conference has boasted a combined winning percentage of .600 or higher in 12 of the last 14 years and a .500 or better record in each of the past 15 tournaments.  The Big Ten was 12-7 (.632) in 2006.

The Big Ten has recorded 10 or more wins in the past three NCAA Championships.  Overall, Big Ten squads have combined for 10 or more NCAA wins on nine occasions, including last year (12-7).

Penn State is the only Big Ten school with an NCAA Championship to its name (1999).

Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin will all serve as hosts for first- and second-round competition.  This is the fourth straight year both Penn State and Wisconsin have served as hosts for the first and second rounds. Penn State's Rec Hall and Wisconsin's UW Field House will also welcome NCAA Regional action on Dec. 7 and 8.

Of the six Big Ten teams in the field, five have winning records in NCAA play, while three have winning percentages higher than .650. Minnesota leads the way with a .676 average (25-12) in 12 championship appearances, while Penn State is next at .658 (48-25) in 26 appearances, and Wisconsin is third with a winning mark of .651 (28-15) in 15 showings. Purdue owns an 11-10 record (.524) in 10 tournaments, Michigan State is an even 11-11 in 11 appearances, and Michigan is 5-7 (.416) in seven showings.

Six different Big Ten schools have combined to reach the national semifinals 13 times, including three schools making six total appearances in the championship game. Of the six squads in this year's bracket, four (Michigan State, Minnesota, Penn State, Wisconsin) have reached the national semifinals on nine occasions with six championship game appearances.

Penn State and Stanford are the only two teams to have earned bids to all 27 NCAA Championships.

Big Ten Volleyball Notes

Penn State Captures Fifth Straight Big Ten Title
Penn State became the first program in conference history to take home five straight Big Ten titles when it clinched the outright crown on Saturday, Nov. 17, with a sweep of Illinois. The Nittany Lions finished the conference schedule with perfect 20-0 record, becoming just the seventh squad since double round-robin play began in 1985 to finish the Big Ten slate undefeated.

Badgers Break Big Ten Attendance Record
shattered its own Big Ten attendance record, welcoming a total of 59,704 fans to the UW Field House over 10 matches for an average of 5,970 per contest, breaking the previous mark of 4,711 set last year. The Badgers enjoyed their first ever sellout on Oct. 20 as they did their part to "Spike Cancer," raising $5,000 for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Madison affiliate.

Big Ten Coaches Reach Big Milestones
Illinois' Don Hardin became the newest member of the Big Ten coaches' 400 wins club with a victory over Iowa in the team's final match of the season. Hardin joins Iowa's Cindy Fredrick, Michigan State's Cathy George, Minnesota's Mike Hebert, Ohio State's Jim Stone, Penn State's Russ Rose and Wisconsin's Pete Waite as active Big Ten coaches with 400 or more career wins. Also this season, Hebert became the first coach in history with 300 wins at two Big Ten schools, earning the milestone at Minnesota on Nov. 17. Hebert also compiled over 300 wins with Illinois from 1983-95. Early this year, Rose became just the third Division I coach in history to reach 900 career wins as his Nittany Lions defeated Michigan State on Sept. 21.

Freshmen Make Immediate Impact
The Big Ten boasted several of the nation's best newcomers throughout the course of the season with multiple freshmen among NCAA leaders. Illinois' Laura DeBruler consistently ranked as the nation's top freshman in kills per game, ending the season with 4.89 per game in all matches played. DeBruler became just the fourth freshman in history to lead the Big Ten in that category, registering 4.98 per game in conference competition. Freshman of the Year Arielle Wilson from Penn State became just the second first-year player to lead the conference in blocks, averaging 1.78 stuffs per game in Big Ten action. Michigan State's Lauren O'Reilly and Michigan's Lexi Zimmerman consistently placed among the NCAA leaders in assists per game, finishing the season ranked second and third, respectively in the Big Ten. O'Reilly averaged 13.63 helpers per conference game, while Zimmerman averaged 13.16.

Harmotto On Pace to Smash Big Ten Record
Penn State's Christa Harmotto, the Big Ten Player of the Year, is on pace to smash the conference's record for hitting percentage with a .483 average in all games played. The mark would best the previous high of .455 set by Illinois' Mary Eggers in 1986.

Big Ten Boasts Nation's Toughest Block
The Big Ten is the only conference in the nation boasting three teams (Penn State, Minnesota, Wisconsin) in the nation's top 20 in blocks.  Penn State is second among NCAA Division I with 3.82 blocks per game, while Minnesota is fifth with a 3.55 average, and Wisconsin is 16th at 3.17. The Big Ten is also the only conference in the country with three individual players among the NCAA's top 20 in that category as Penn State's Christa Harmotto is fifth (1.63 bpg), Minnesota's Jessy Jones is sixth (1.63) and Wisconsin's Taylor Reineke is 20th (1.53).

Wack and Selsky Join Elite Digs Club
Wisconsin's Jocelyn Wack and Michigan's Stesha Selsky became the second and third players in Big Ten history to eclipse the 2,000 digs milestone. Wack reached the mark on Oct. 27 while Selsky followed on Nov. 5. Wack and Selsky rank second and third in the conference, respectively, in all-time digs, and each is the career record holder at her respective school. Wack and Selsky trail only Minnesota's Paula Gentil, who compiled 2,791 career digs, in the Big Ten records book.

Big Ten in the Polls
The Big Ten has placed at least two teams in the nation's top 10 in 14 of the 15 polls issued this season. Penn Sate is enjoying its fifth consecutive week at No. 1 after jumping into the top spot on Oct. 29. The ranking marked the first time since 1999 the Nittany Lions reached the top spot and the first time since 2004 that a Big Ten school (Minnesota) was ranked No. 1. Wisconsin sits in the No. 8 spot, marking the third consecutive week and the 13th overall this season that the Badgers have been a top-10 team. This week, Michigan, Minnesota and Purdue are all receiving votes outside the top 25.