Dec. 12, 2012
Michigan, Penn State Travel to Semifinals: Michigan and Penn State will travel to Louisville, Ky., to represent the Big Ten in the NCAA Championship semifinals after winning their respective regionals. The Wolverines swept Michigan State and upset No. 2 seed Stanford, 3-1, to take the Berkeley Regional, while No. 1 Penn State swept No. 16 Kentucky and took down No. 8 Minnesota in four sets to secure the West Lafayette Regional. Thursday’s first semifinal features the Wolverines taking on No. 3 Texas at 7 p.m. ET, while the Nittany Lions and No. 5 Oregon follow at 9 p.m. Both semifinal matches, along with the national championship match, can be seen live on ESPN2 and ESPN3.com.
New Kids on the Block: Michigan clinched its first appearance in the national semifinals with a win over No. 2 Stanford on Saturday. Michigan junior Lexi Erwin was named the Berkeley Regional MVP after notching 23 kills and 16 digs in the regional final match. Three other Wolverines also reached double-digit kills -- juniors Jennifer Cross (15) and Molly Toon (12) and senior Claire McElheny (11).
They’re Back!: Penn State advanced to the national semifinals for the fifth time in the last six seasons after a four-set win over No. 8 seed Minnesota. The Nittany Lions have advanced to 10 national semifinals, winning five titles and four straight from 2007-10. Junior Ariel Scott was named the West Lafayette Regional MVP after posting 25 kills on .422 hitting against the Gophers. Junior Deja McClendon posted 14 kills in the match, while freshman Megan Courtney added 11.
NCAA Championship By The Numbers: Big Ten teams have compiled a 19-5 record through this year’s NCAA Championship Regionals, tying the all-time win total for the conference set in 2010. Michigan and Penn State give the Big Ten two national semifinals squads for the third time in conference history (1994, 2009) and it marks the sixth consecutive season that a Big Ten team has reached the national semifinals. Five conference teams swept their way into the second round, while the other two won in five sets. Six squads then won their second-round contests, giving the Big Ten the most Sweet 16 teams of any conference.
B1G Wins over Top Seeds: Thirteen seeded-teams have been eliminated at this year’s championship, with seven falling to Big Ten institutions. Michigan defeated No. 10 Louisville and No. 2 Stanford, while Michigan State took down defending national champion and No. 7 UCLA in four sets. No. 4 Nebraska swept No. 13 Washington, No. 1 Penn State swept No. 16 Kentucky and defeated No. 8 Minnesota in four sets, and Purdue eliminated No. 9 Florida in five sets.
Recapping Rounds 1 & 2: Michigan earned a five-set win over Tennessee before taking down 10th-seeded Louisville, 3-1. Michigan State defeated San Diego in five sets and eliminated defending national champion and No. 7 UCLA in four sets. No. 8 Minnesota swept Liberty and defeated Creighton, 3-1. No. 4 Nebraska swept Maryland Eastern-Shore and Northern Iowa, while Ohio State swept Notre Dame but fell to No. 16 Kentucky, 3-1. No. 1 Penn State swept Binghamton and Bowling Green, and Purdue defeated Colorado State, 3-0, and No. 9 Florida State, 3-2, en route to the Sweet 16.
All-America Status: Fourteen Big Ten players have been selected as AVCA Division I All-Americans, the most of any conference, with four players earning first-team status. Minnesota’s Katherine Harms, Nebraska’s Lauren Cook and Penn State’s Micha Hancock and Ariel Scott earned first-team honors, while Michigan State’s Lauren Wicinski, Minnesota’s Tori Dixon, Nebraska’s Gina Mancuso and Hannah Werth, Purdue’s Ariel Turner and Penn State’s Katie Slay were named to the second team. Michigan’s Jennifer Cross, Northwestern’s Stephanie Holthus, Ohio State’s Mari Hole and Penn State’s Deja McClendon earned third-team honors. Four others received honorable mention -- Michigan’s Lexi Erwin, Michigan State’s Kori Moster, Minnesota’s Ashley Wittman and Nebraska’s Meghan Haggerty.
Big Ten Claims AVCA Regional Honors: Big Ten volleyball standouts collected numerous AVCA Division I Regional Awards, with 21 players earning All-Region honors. Penn State head coach Russ Rose was named the Mideast Region Coach of the Year, while Penn State newcomer Megan Courtney reeled in Mideast Region Freshman of the Year laurels. Earning All-Mideast Region accolades were Michigan’s Jennifer Cross, Michigan State’s Lauren Wicinski, Minnesota’s Tori Dixon and Katherine Harms, Nebraska’s Lauren Cook, Gina Mancuso and Hannah Werth, Northwestern’s Stephanie Holthus, Ohio State’s Mari Hole, Penn State’s Micha Hancock, Deja McClendon, Ariel Scott and Katie Slay and Purdue’s Ariel Turner. Additionally, six players received honorable mention status -- Michigan’s Lexi Erwin, Michigan State’s Kori Moster, Minnesota’s Ashley Wittman, Nebraska’s Meghan Haggerty, Ohio State’s Emily Danks and Penn State’s Courtney.
Familiar Faces: Two of the eight regional semifinal tilts featured Big Ten matchups, as Michigan took on Michigan State in the Gainesville Regional, and No. 8 Minnesota visited Purdue in the West Lafayette Regional. The West Lafayette Regional final also featured a Big Ten matchup, as the Nittany Lions took on Minnesota, marking the 15th time that two Big Ten teams have met in the NCAA Championship.
Awards Season: The Big Ten announced its All-Conference teams and individual award winners following the conclusion of the regular season, with Purdue’s Ariel Turner earning Big Ten Player of the Year honors. Penn State’s Katie Slay reeled in Defensive Player of the Year laurels, while Penn State’s Micha Hancock was named Freshman of the Year and Purdue’s Dave Shondell was tabbed Coach of the Year by the conference’s coaches and media.
The Ratings Are In: Eight Big Ten teams held 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.
Where We Rank: Five Big Ten volleyball teams appeared in the top 25 in the final regular season AVCA Division I Coaches Poll, including No. 1 Penn State. Nebraska checked in at No. 10, while Minnesota moved to No. 11. Ohio State was No. 14 and Purdue was No. 22. Michigan and Michigan State also received votes in the poll.