Big Ten Volleyball Weekly Release - Dec. 11

Wisconsin's Lauren Carlini

Dec. 11, 2013

Rosemont, Ill. -

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Attached you will find the Big Ten volleyball weekly release, complete with updated standings, statistics, news and notes from around the conference.

BIG TEN MEDAL OF HONOR 100TH ANNIVERSARY SPOTLIGHT - Illinois' Betsy Spicer: A 2001 recipient of the Big Ten Medal of Honor, Spicer led Illinois to two NCAA Championship appearances in her four years, including a Sweet 16 berth in 1998. She ranks in the top 10 of numerous Illini categories, including sixth in block assists (413), seventh in total blocks (456) and attack percentage (.348) and ninth in kills (1,245). The Barrington, Ill., native was a two-time first-team All-Big Ten pick (1999-00) and three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection (1998-00). In 2000, the senior led the Big Ten in attack percentage (.398) and was tabbed an honorable mention All-American. Following her collegiate career, Spicer played professionally for three years in the U.S. Professional Volleyball Association and with Cluba de Maia in Portugal before getting into coaching and social work. 

Lucky Number Seven: Seven Big Ten teams continue postseason action this weekend, as Illinois, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin are set to compete in NCAA Championship regionals. The seven regional qualifying teams are a record among all conferences and marks the fourth consecutive year at least six Big Ten squads have advanced to the Sweet 16.

Familiar Faces: Two of the four regional sites will feature three Big Ten teams in its field. In the Champaign Regional, 12th-seeded Wisconsin battles Florida State, while 13th-seeded Illinois hosts conference foe Purdue. In the Lexington regional, 10th-seeded Minnesota takes on seventh-seeded Stanford, while second-seeded Penn State also faces a Big Ten opponent in Michigan State.

Opening Rounds By The Numbers: Big Ten teams have compiled a 14-1 record through the first two rounds of the NCAA Championship. Seven teams swept their way into the second round, while Nebraska, Penn State and Wisconsin also posted 3-0 wins in the round of 32. Illinois, Michigan State and Purdue won their second-round matchups in four sets, while Minnesota picked up its second tournament win in five.

Beating the Best: Five seeded-teams have been knocked out of the NCAA Championship, with the Big Ten defeating two of the those squads. Purdue defeated the highest seed to fall so far in the 2013 tournament, as the Boilermakers bested fourth-seeded and previously unbeaten Missouri, 3-1. Michigan State downed 15th-seeded and regional host Kentucky, 3-1.

NCAA Championship History: Big Ten institutions have claimed five of the last seven NCAA volleyball titles. Nebraska took home the national title in 2006 before Penn State won four straight from 2007-10. The Nittany Lions and Michigan are coming off NCAA semifinal appearances last season, while the Huskers advanced to the national quarterfinals in 2012.  

Regional Recognition: Big Ten volleyball standouts collected numerous AVCA Division I Regional Awards on Tuesday, with 31 players earning All-Region honors. In their respective regions, head coaches Hugh McCutcheon of Minnesota (North) and Russ Rose of Penn State (Northeast) took home Coach of the Year accolades, while Nebraska's Kadie Rolfzen (North) and Wisconsin's Lauren Carlini (Northeast) won Freshman of the Year awards. Big Ten student-athletes made up the entire North Region team and included Michigan's Jennifer Cross, Lexi Dannemiller and Molly Toon, Michigan State's Alexis Mathews, Kori Moster and Lauren Wicinski, Minnesota's Tori Dixon, Adrianna Nora and Ashley Wittman, Nebraska's Meghan Haggerty, Mary Pollmiller, Kelsey Robinson and Kadie Rolfzen and Northwestern's Stephanie Holthus. Northeast Region honorees were Illinois' Jennifer Beltran and Jocelynn Birks, Ohio State's Kaitlyn Leary, Penn State's Nia Grant, Micha Hancock, Deja McClendon, Ariel Scott and Katie Slay, Purdue's KiKi Jones and Val Nichol and Wisconsin's Lauren Carlini and Ellen Chapman. The Illini's Liz McMahon, Huskers' Cecilia Hall, Wildcats' Caleigh Ryan and Boilermakers' Carly Cramer and Catherine Rebarchak earned honorable mention recognition.

And The Awards Go To: The Big Ten announced its postseason volleyball awards last week, with student-athletes from four schools earning recognition following the conclusion of the 2013 regular season. Nebraska's Kelsey Robinson was named the Big Ten Player of the Year, while Michigan State's Kori Moster and Wisconsin's Lauren Carlini were tabbed Defensive Player and Freshman of the Year, respectively. Penn State's Micha Hancock earned Setter of the Year honors, while Nittany Lion head coach Russ Rose was tabbed Coach of the Year by Big Ten coaches and media.

Statistically Speaking: Numerous Big Ten standouts appear among the top 25 of the NCAA statistical leaders. Penn State's Micha Hancock is second in the nation in aces per set (0.65), while Minnesota's Daly Santana is 19th (0.43) and Michigan State's Lauren Wicinski is 22nd (0.42). Wicinski ranks ninth in points per set (5.24), followed by Ohio State's Kaitlyn Leary in 10th (5.16) and Nebraska's Kelsey Robinson in 14th (5.05). Leary is also fourth in kills per set (4.85) and Wicinski and Robinson are 17th (4.45) and 19th (4.38), respectively. Penn State's Katie Slay is third in the country in blocks per set (1.64), while Michigan State's Alexis Mathews is 11th (1.50) and Nebraska's Cecilia Hall is 22nd (1.35). Mathews ranks 19th in hitting percentage (.406), followed by Slay at No. 22 (.404) and Minnesota's Tori Dixon at No. 25 (.398). As a team, Penn State is first is blocks per set (3.10) and third in hitting percentage (.314). Minnesota is also in the top 10 in blocks per set and hitting percentage, ranking ninth in both categories.