Big Ten Volleyball Announces 2004 Postseason Honors
Nov. 30, 2004
PARK RIDGE, IL - Two of the nation's most dominant offensive and defensive standouts - Ohio State's Stacey Gordon and Minnesota's Paula Gentil - have been tabbed by Conference coaches as the 2004 Big Ten Player and Defensive Player of the Year, respectively, League officials announced today. Penn State's Kate Price was selected as Big Ten Freshman of the Year, while Ohio State mentor Jim Stone was tabbed by both his peers and the media as Coach of the Year. In addition to individual honors, 17 student-athletes were named to All-Big Ten Teams, while six newcomers were selected to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team. Eleven honorees were also selected for the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award.
Gordon and Gentil both rewrote the Conference record books this season as the Buckeye senior set the Big Ten career-kill record while Gentil broke the all-time Conference record for digs in just her junior campaign. After setting the League's single-season record with 6.62 kills per game last year, the Oshawa, Ontario, native has shattered her own record with her current average of 7.00, which is tops in the nation. In mid-October, the 5-10 outside hitter broke the Conference's career-kill mark of 2,379, established by Minnesota's Nicole Branagh from 1997-2000. Gordon currently has 2,708 kills for her career, which is fifth on the NCAA Division I career kills list. She stands 21 kills behind No. 4 Michelle Collier (1998-2002) of South Florida who has 2,729.
Gentil, a junior libero for the Golden Gophers, earns her third-straight Defensive Player of the Year honor after setting the Big Ten's all-time record for career digs with 1,947, bettering the previous record of 1,931, set by Janet Moylan of Iowa from 1987-90. Three weeks ago, Gentil shattered her Big Ten single-season digs record of 656, which she set last year, and currently stands at 751. The native of Fortaleza Ceara', Brazil, is just the third player in Big Ten history to record 1,900 digs and is on pace to become the first to eclipse the 2,000-dig plateau. Earlier this season, Gentil, who currently has the nation's third-best average of 6.53 digs per game, broke her own school record with 39 digs in a 3-0 sweep of Michigan on September 25, bettering her previous high of 37 against then-No. 1 USC on August 28 in five games. Gentil's school record marked just the first time a League player had recorded 39 or more digs in a match since October 20, 1990. She has helped lead her Gophers to a 28-4 record, including a No. 1 ranking earlier in the season, a second-place tie with Ohio State in the final League standings at 17-3, and the fourth-seed in the NCAA Championship.
Penn State also earned a three-peat of its own as it now stakes claim to its third-consecutive Big Ten Freshman of the Year in Price. Current Nittany Lions Sam Tortorello (2002) and Cassy Salyer (2003) were tabbed the League's best newcomers the past two seasons. A native of Fraser, Mich., Price has helped lead the Nittany Lions to a 27-2 overall record, their second-straight outright Big Ten title after finishing 18-2 in League play, and a No. 2 seed in the upcoming NCAA Championship. The 6-2 outside hitter, who ranks first on the team with 3.93 kills per game and has recorded six double-doubles, set the tone early in her freshman campaign. In her first collegiate road weekend, Price earned MVP honors at the Stanford Invitational after a dominating performance against then-No. 12 Stanford when she posted a career high 28 kills. It marked the first time since the 2002 season that a Penn State player had recorded 28 or more kills, and only the third time in Penn State rally-scoring-era history that the mark had been reached.
Stone becomes the first Big Ten coach since Minnesota's Mike Hebert in 2002 to earn outright Coach of the Year honors by both the League mentors and the media. This season marks the fourth year Stone has been honored by the League, as he was a coaches' and media selection in 1989 and 1991 and the media's pick in 1994. Earlier this year, Stone captured his 500th career win and then led his Buckeyes to a school-record 19-0 start and a No. 7 national ranking. After finishing ninth in the League last season at 5-15, Stone's troops tied for second in 2004 at 17-3 and 27-3 overall. The fifth-seeded Buckeyes will make their 13th overall NCAA appearance later this week.
Along with Price, five newcomers were selected by the League coaches to the All-Big Ten Freshman Team. Outside hitter Katie Bruzdzinski of Michigan joins middle blockers Jen Hynds of Illinois and Ohio State's Ami Stevens on the squad. A pair of setters, Michigan State's Maggie Griffin and Wisconsin's Jackie Simpson, were also honored.
The Conference office also announced honorees from each team 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 volleyball are Erin Virtue of Illinois, Katie Pollom of Indiana, Pam Kavadas of Iowa, Erin Cobler of Michigan, Griffin of Michigan State, Meredith Nelson of Minnesota, Lauren Greenwood of Northwestern, Briana McCarthy of Ohio State, Tabitha Eshleman of Penn State, Daren Poe of Purdue and Jill Odenthal of Wisconsin. 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 2004 All-Big Ten Team and individual honors follows.
2004 ALL-BIG TEN HONORABLE MENTION
2004 BIG TEN ALL-FRESHMAN TEAM
2004 BIG TEN PLAYER OF THE YEAR
2004 DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
2004 FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR
2004 COACH OF THE YEAR (COACHES/MEDIA)
* Unanimous Selection