Big Ten Volleyball Weekly Release - NCAA Championship
Dec. 10, 2009
For the fourth time in six years, at least four Big Ten teams have advanced to NCAA Regional competition.
No. 5 Illinois, No. 13 Michigan, No. 11 Minnesota and No. 1 Penn State all advanced through the first two rounds of the 2009 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship last weekend to make up one quarter of the remaining field of 16 teams. The Big Ten has the second-largest representation among all conferences, trailing the Big 12’s five remaining teams. Regionals will be played Friday and Saturday, Dec. 11 and 12, at four pre-determined campus sites, including Minnesota’s Sports Pavilion. Three Big Ten squads are on the same side of the bracket, with a potential matchup between Illinois and Michigan on tap for the Stanford Regional final.
In order to advance, Illinois will need to get past 12th-seeded Hawai’i, while the Wolverines will need to knock off regional host, No. 4 Stanford. In other action, Minnesota faces Colorado State on Friday, and would advance to play No. 3 Florida State or Kentucky with a win. Penn State opens the weekend with No. 16 Florida, looking for the opportunity to take on No. 9 California or Baylor.
Illinois is making its second consecutive and 11th overall regional appearance, having last advanced to regional finals in 1996. Michigan is making its third straight and third overall trip to regionals, looking to move on to the round of eight for the first time in program history. Minnesota will play in regionals for the ninth time overall and for the first time since 2006. The last three times the Gophers have made it to regionals, the team has moved on to play in its regional final. Penn State earns its 17th trip to regionals since joining the Big Ten for the 1991 season. Eleven of those showings have resulted in the Nittany Lions advancing to play in regional finals.
ROAD TO REGIONALS
Michigan began its postseason with a convincing sweep over Niagara on Friday, where the Wolverines out-hit their opponent, .446 to -.081. Alex Hunt led the attack with 14 kills on .500 hitting, while Sloane Donhoff and Megan Bower both posted double-digit digs. The following night, Michigan snuck past Ohio in a five-set decision, led by Juliana Paz’s 18 kills and Lexi Zimmerman’s 51 assists.
Minnesota was led by Tabitha Love, Hailey Cowles and Lauren Gibbemeyer, who tallied 19, 18 and 17 kills, respectively, in the Gophers’ first-round, 3-1 win over Louisville last Friday. Gibbemeyer led her squad the next night with 13 kills in a sweep over host Tennessee, while setter Taylor Carico contributed from all over the floor with 40 assists, 12 digs and five block assists.
Penn State lived up to its No. 1 overall seed with a pair of sweeps last weekend, first taking down Binghamton on Friday. Megan Hodge led all players in the effort with 13 kills on .545 hitting, while Arielle Wilson had 12 hits at an .800 clip as the team hit a combined .507 on the night. On Saturday, the Nittany Lions swept Penn, led by Wilson’s 13 kills, while Alisha Glass assisted on 28 of her team’s 38 kills, guiding PSU to a .349 hitting average on the night.