Nov. 28, 2012
Seven Teams Selected to NCAA Championship: The Big Ten will be well-represented at the 2012 NCAA Volleyball Championship, as seven conference teams have been selected to the tournament’s field of 64. The seven-team total is tied for first among all conferences and marks the third time in the last four years that the Big Ten has sent seven or more teams to the national tournament. Big Ten Champion Penn State enters the tournament as the No. 1 overall seed, while No. 4 Nebraska and No. 8 Minnesota have also earned top-16 seeds. Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Purdue also received bids, rounding out the Big Ten contingent in the tournament.
Awards Season: The Big Ten announced its All-Conference teams and individual award winners, with Penn State’s Ariel Scott earning Big Ten Player of the Year honors. Michigan State’s Kori Moster reeled in Defensive Player of the Year laurels, while Penn State’s Micha Hancock was named Setter of the Year and teammate Megan Courtney was tabbed Freshman of the Year. The Nittany Lions’ Russ Rose was voted Coach of the Year by the conference’s coaches and media. The complete list of All-Big Ten honorees and individual award winners can be found on the following page.
Purdue’s Turner Earns National Honor: Purdue outside hitter Ariel Turner was named the Sports Imports/AVCA Division I National Player of the Week after leading the Boilermakers to back-to-back Big Ten wins. Turner recorded 18 kills on .366 hitting with 14 digs in a sweep of Indiana before posting a match-high 24 kills, 17 digs, four aces and three blocks in a four-set win against Wisconsin. The award is Turner’s second of her career, with the most recent honor going to Rachel Davis on Nov. 15, 2011. Big Ten student-athletes have now claimed three national player of the week honors, as Penn State’s Micha Hancock (Nov. 6) and Ohio State’s Mari Hole (Nov. 13) were honored on back-to-back weeks.
Big Ten in the NCAA Championship: Penn State enters the 2011 NCAA Championship looking for its fifth national title in the last six seasons, as the Nittany Lions took home national titles in 1999, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. The Big Ten sends seven squads to this year’s national tournament, tying for the lead among all conferences. The Big Ten has sent seven or more teams in three of the last four years.
The Week That Was: Six teams put together back-to-back wins to close out the regular season last week, as Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Penn State and Purdue each recorded two victories. The Fighting Illini defeated Northwestern (3-2) and Iowa (3-0), while the Wolverines swept Michigan State and defeated Ohio State (3-1). The Gophers swept Wisconsin and Indiana, and the Huskers defeated Iowa (3-0) and Northwestern (3-1). Penn State swept Michigan State and Ohio State, and Purdue defeated Indiana (3-0) and Wisconsin (3-1).
The Ratings Are In: Eight Big Ten teams hold top-40 rankings in the final national RPI of the regular season. Three Big Ten squads have earned spots in the top nine, with No. 2 Penn State leading the way. Nebraska follows at No. 5, while Minnesota checks in at No. 9. Ohio State and Purdue also hold top-30 rankings, as the Buckeyes are 25th and the Boilermakers are 29th. Michigan checks in at No. 31, followed by No. 36 Michigan State and No. 37 Illinois.
Home Sweet Home: Big Ten volleyball teams continue to attract fans by the thousands, as eight conference teams finished the regular season ranked in the nation’s top 30 in average attendance with six teams in the top 10. Nebraska owns the second-highest attendance average in the country at 4,301, while Minnesota (3,467), Wisconsin (3,252) and Penn State (3,252) follow at Nos. 3, 4 and 5, respectively. Illinois is eighth (2,809), while Purdue (2,788) in ninth. Michigan State comes in at No. 16 (2,107), while Ohio State is No. 28 (1,424).
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 (.55) and Minnesota’s Daly Santana is seventh (.49). Wicinski is also among the leaders in points per set (5.31), ranking seventh nationally. Two Big Ten standouts also rank among the top six in hitting percentage, as Minnesota’s Tori Dixon is third (.444) and Penn State’s Katie Slay is sixth (.431).
Statistically Speaking, Part Two: In the team rankings, Penn State is third in hitting percentage (.305) and ninth in blocks per set (3.00). Minnesota ranks fourth in hitting percentage (.302), while Nebraska is 10th (.290). The Huskers also rank 10th in hitting percentage with a .290 clip.