Big Ten Volleyball Weekly Release - Dec. 18

Lauren Carlini was named MVP of the Champaign Regional

Lauren Carlini was named MVP of the Champaign Regional

Dec. 18, 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 – Michigan’s Alison Noble: A 1984 recipient of the Big Ten Medal of Honor, Noble was a four-year letterwinner for Michigan. She led the Wolverines to their first Big Ten Championship in 1981, where she was named to the Big Ten All-Tournament team. Noble was a two-time AIAW All-Region honoree in 1980 and 1981 and an academic All-Big Ten selection in 1983. The computer engineering major graduated summa cum laude and was inducted into the M-Women Academic Hall of Fame in 1985.

And Then There Were Two: Penn State and Wisconsin will travel to Seattle, Wash., to represent the Big Ten in the NCAA Championship semifinals after winning their respective regionals. The second-seeded Nittany Lions earned a 3-1 win over conference foe Michigan State and picked up a 3-2 victory over seventh-seeded Stanford to take the Lexington Regional, while the 12th-seeded Badgers defeated Florida State and took down Purdue in four sets to secure the Champaign Regional. Thursday’s first semifinal features Wisconsin taking on defending national champion and top-seeded Texas at 7:30 p.m. ET, followed by Penn State versus host and third-seeded Washington at 9:30 p.m. Both semifinal matches, along with the national championship match, can be seen live on ESPN2 and ESPN3.com.

Guess Who’s Back: Penn State advanced to the national semifinals for the second year in a row and the sixth time in the last seven seasons after a four-set win over No. 7 seed Stanford. The Nittany Lions have participated in 11 national semifinals, winning five titles, including four straight from 2007-10. Senior Deja McClendon was named the Lexington Regional Most Outstanding Player, while Micha Hancock and Ariel Scott earned spots on the regional All-Tournament team.

New Kids on the Block: Wisconsin clinched its second appearance in the national semifinals, and first since 2000, with a win over conference foe Purdue on Saturday. Wisconsin freshman Lauren Carlini was named the Champaign Regional MVP after notching 55 assists and 10 digs in the regional final match. Three other Badgers were named to the regional All-Tournament team -- juniors Ellen Chapman, Deme Morales and Dominique Thompson.

NCAA Championship By The Numbers: Big Ten teams have compiled a 20-6 (.769) record through this year’s NCAA Championship Regionals, surpassing the previous all-time win total for the conference of 19 set in 2010 and 2012. Penn State and Wisconsin give the Big Ten two national semifinal squads for the second year in a row and fourth time in conference history (1994, 2009, 2012). It marks the seventh consecutive season that a Big Ten team has reached the national semifinals.

NCAA Championship Notes: 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 Big Ten had seven teams advance to the regional round of the tournament which is a record among all conferences and marked the fourth consecutive year at least six Big Ten squads advanced to the Sweet 16.

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 (0.63), while Minnesota’s Daly Santana is 19th (0.43) and Michigan State’s Lauren Wicinski is 24th (0.41). Wicinski ranks ninth in points per set (5.20), followed by Ohio State’s Kaitlyn Leary in 10th (5.16) and Nebraska’s Kelsey Robinson in 14th (5.11). Leary is also fourth in kills per set (4.85) and Robinson and Wicinski are 18th (4.45) and 19th (4.44), respectively. Penn State’s Katie Slay is third in the country in blocks per set (1.67) and Michigan State’s Alexis Mathews is 11th (1.47). Slay ranks 21st in hitting percentage (.404) and is followed by Minnesota’s Tori Dixon in 25th (.399). As a team, Penn State is first is blocks per set (3.09) and fifth in hitting percentage (.306). Minnesota also ranks in the top 10 in hitting percentage, ranking 10th (.288).

Regional Recognition: Big Ten volleyball standouts collected numerous AVCA Division I Regional Awards, 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.

Reppin’ in the RPI: According to the final national RPI report of the regular season, eight Big Ten teams appeared in the top 35, the most among all conferences. Penn State led the way at No. 1, followed by No. 9 Nebraska, No. 11 Minnesota, No. 15 Wisconsin, No. 20 Illinois, No. 27 Purdue, No. 28 Michigan State and No. 33 Michigan.