Minnesota, Penn State and Wisconsin Earn Big Ten Volleyball Major Postseason Awards
Nov. 28, 2006
PARK RIDGE, Ill. - On the heels of its conference record fourth-consecutive outright Big Ten Championship, Penn State has made history yet again. The conference office announced today that Penn State freshman Megan Hodge has been named both the Big Ten's Freshman and Player of the Year, marking the first time in the conference's 23-year history a freshman has claimed the Big Ten's top honor. Minnesota's Malama Peniata earned Defensive Player of the Year accolades, while the Coach of the Year award was split. Hodge's mentor, Russ Rose, was selected Coach of the Year by a 22-member media panel while the 11 Big Ten coaches awarded the honor to Wisconsin's Pete Waite. In addition to individual accolades, 19 student-athletes earned All-Big Ten honors, while six newcomers were selected to the conference's All-Freshman Team. Eleven honorees were also chosen for the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award.
A native of Durham, N.C., Hodge is Penn State's eighth overall and second-straight Player of the Year honoree as Sam Tortorello was named the conference's top standout last year. Hodge is also the sixth Nittany Lion to be named Big Ten Freshman of the Year and continues Penn State's streak of five-consecutive newcomers honored by the conference. During the 20-match Big Ten slate, Hodge led all conference attackers with 5.34 kills and ranked third in service aces with 0.41 per game. Across the board, she led all Big Ten players with 6.16 points per game on 342 kills, 26 service aces, 39 block assists and seven solo blocks in 64 games. Hodge was selected the conference's Player of the Week on three occasions this season.
Peniata, a libero from Plymouth, Minn., is the first Golden Gopher to be honored as the conference's Defensive Player of the Year since Paula Gentil won the award three-straight years from 2002-04. Over the 20 Big Ten matches this season, Peniata averaged 5.14 digs per game and earned a conference-best three Defensive Player of the Week awards. She helped lead the Golden Gophers to second place in the Big Ten standings in part to limiting their opponents to just .160 hitting, which was the second-best mark in the conference.
Penn State's Rose guided his Nittany Lions to their fourth-straight outright conference championship in 2006, which marks the first time in Big Ten history the feat has been accomplished. Rose led his squad to a 29-2 regular-season record, including 18-2 in the Big Ten. In conference matches this season, Rose's Nittany Lions led the Big Ten in all major categories with the exception of digs. In his 28th year of coaching in State College, which includes 16 seasons in the conference, Rose has now been selected as the top coach by the media eight times, including back-to-back seasons in 1992 and 1993 and 2005 and 2006. He captured three straight awards from 1996-99.
Waite earns his second Coach of the Year award from his peers since he came to Wisconsin in 1999. His Badgers placed third in the Big Ten at 16-4 this season and enter NCAA Championship play 24-6 overall and as the nation's 10th overall seed. Waite, who was honored by the coaches in 2000, is in his eighth season in Madison. During conference play this year, the Badgers ranked second in assists (15.49), blocks (3.21) and kills (16.74), while placing third in hitting percentage (.269). Waite is also a two-time Big Ten Coach of the Year as voted by the conference's media in 2000 and 2001.
This season's All-Big Team is made up 14 student-athletes instead of 12 due to ties. The squad consists of six first-time selections and eight returnees, including unanimous selections in Minnesota's Meredith Nelson, Ohio State's Danielle Meyer and Penn State's Nicole Fawcett and Hodge. Ohio State's Marisa Main earned her third selection to the postseason team. Eight of the 11 conference schools were represented on the All-Big Ten Team and in honorable mention selections, led by Minnesota, Penn State and Wisconsin with three each. Penn State's Christa Harmotto earned her second selection, while Minnesota's Peniata and Kelly Bowman joined Nelson as Golden Gopher representatives. The Badgers had a pair of juniors selected in Taylor Reineke and Jackie Simpson as well as Brittney Dolgner, who was one of six named to the All-Freshman Team.
In addition to Hodge and Dolgner, the conference coaches selected Michigan State's Vanessa King, Northwestern's Kate Nobilio, Ohio State's Anna Szerszen and Penn State's Alisha Glass to the All-Freshman Team. Nobilio is the Wildcats' first All-Freshman honoree since Drew Robertson in 2001, while Dolgner's selection continues the Badgers' streak as the only Big Ten squad that has had an All-Freshman honoree in each of the eight years since the award's inception in 1999.
The conference office also announced today honorees from each of the 11 volleyball squads for the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award. The student-athletes chosen are individuals who have distinguished themselves through sportsmanship and ethical behavior. In addition, the student-athletes must be in good academic standing and have demonstrated good citizenship outside of the sports-competition setting. Honorees for women's volleyball are Illinois' Kayani Turner, Indiana's Annie Moddrell, Iowa's Melanie Meister, Michigan's Erin Penn, Michigan State's Miken Trogdon, Minnesota's Meghan Cumpston, Northwestern's Lauren Greenwood, Ohio State's Briana McCarthy, Penn State's Joanie Guman, Purdue's Brittany Dildine and Wisconsin's Audra Jeffers. These 11 student-athletes are now candidates for the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award, as the conference office will honor one male and one female student-athlete from each institution at the end of the school year.
A complete listing of the 2006 All-Big Ten Team and individual honors follows.
Unanimous Selection in ALL CAPS