Dec. 15, 2010
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Looking for its fourth straight national championship and fifth overall, fourth-seeded Penn State will take on No. 9 Texas in the national semifinals on Thursday at 7 p.m. ET. The winner of the first semifinal will take on the winner of Thursday's second semifinal, California and Southern California, in the national championship match on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. ET. Both national semifinals and the national championship matches will be televised live on ESPN2 and streamed online at ESPN3.com. The Nittany Lions have won 22 straight postseason contests, an NCAA record.
Looking for Four
Winners of the last three NCAA Championships, Penn State looks to extend its NCAA-record streak to four straight national titles. In 2009 against Texas, the Nittany Lions recovered from an 0-2 deficit to clinch their third straight title. Penn State battled Stanford for the national title in 2007 and 2008, winning the 2007 crown in five sets, while sweeping its way to the 2008 title.
A Successful Postseason
Having placed eight teams in the NCAA Championship for the first time, Big Ten teams have combined for the most postseason victories in conference history. Through the regional final round, conference teams have combined for 16 postseason wins, bettering the previous high of 15 wins in 2004. Six Big Ten teams advanced to the round of 16, joining the Pac-10 in 1982 as the only other conference to send six teams to the regional semifinal round.
Eight Teams Reach 20 Wins
This season, a record eight Big Ten teams reached or eclipsed the 20-wins mark. Only once before had the Big Ten had seven teams reach the 20-win mark, and Northwestern's first-round victory over Arizona in the NCAA Championship gave the conference eight this year. Other conference teams also reaching the landmark this season were Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State and Purdue.
This season, each conference squad has recorded at least one victory over a team ranked in the AVCA coaches poll. Nine Big Ten teams have at least two wins over top-25 teams, while all eight NCAA Championship-qualifying teams won three or more matches against ranked opponents. Penn State has faced 11 opponents when, totaling a Big Ten-best eight victories against ranked squads this season.
Thirteen Big Ten volleyball standouts were named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association All-America Teams, it was announced on Wednesday. Three were named to the first team, four were chosen for the second and third teams, and two earned honorable mention status. In addition, Penn State's Deja McClendon was named the AVCA Freshman of the Year. Penn State's Blair Brown and Arielle Wilson were named first-team All-Americans for the second year in a row, while Indiana's Ashley Benson makes her first appearance on the first team. Second-team honorees included Illinois' Colleen Ward, Michigan's Lexi Zimmerman, Northwestern's Sabel Moffett and Penn State's McClendon. Third-team selections went to Illinois' Michelle Bartsch and Hillary Haen, Michigan's Alex Hunt and Purdue's Jaclyn Hart, with Minnesota's Jessica Granquist and Northwestern's Naomi Johnson earning honorable mention status.
Thirteen Big Ten standouts were named to the 14-member AVCA All-Mideast Region team, the association announced. The 14-member squad includes one four-time selection in Michigan's Lexi Zimmerman, a pair of three-time honorees in Penn State's Blair Brown and Arielle Wilson and two-time members Ashley Benson of Indiana and Sabel Moffett of Northwestern. Penn State's Deja McClendon was named Mideast Region Freshman of the Year, while Nittany Lion head coach Russ Rose was named Mideast Region Coach of the Year. Other All-Mideast Region team members include Illinois' Michelle Bartsch, Hillary Haen and Colleen Ward, Michigan's Alex Hunt, Minnesota's Jessica Granquist, Northwestern's Naomi Johnson, Penn State's McClendon and Purdue's Jaclyn Hart.