2005 Big Ten Volleyball Season in Review
Dec. 21, 2005
Several team and individual performances highlighted the 2005 Big Ten volleyball season. National honors were also not uncommon as nine conference standouts were tabbed AVCA All-Midwest Region, while six of them went on to earn All-America status. Penn State's Nicole Fawcett, the unanimous selection for Big Ten Freshman of the Year, added Regional and National Freshman of the Year honors to her young résumé. Penn State proved its dominance over the Big Ten with a perfect 20-0 league record, but the conference-wide success was perhaps the most impressive mark of the 2005 season.
For the first time since 1996, four Big Ten squads eclipsed the 25-win mark in a season. Penn State (31-3), Wisconsin (26-7), Purdue (25-9) and Minnesota (25-8) captured 25 or more wins. A half-dozen conference squads posted 20 or more wins for the first time since 2002. Joining the four teams mentioned above, Ohio State (22-9) and Northwestern (20-12) surpassed 20 wins in 2005. The Big Ten tied the 15-team Big East as the only major conferences (ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10, SEC) that had six teams eclipse the 20-win mark.
In addition, five teams finished ranked in the CSTV/AVCA Top 25 Coaches Poll, including one league team receiving votes. No. 5 Penn State led the Big Ten contingent, while Wisconsin (10), Purdue (17), Minnesota (21) and Ohio State (23) all found spots among the top 25 in the final poll. Northwestern ended the season earning votes in the final five polls. The Big Ten also had a nation's-best six teams in the top 25, including four among the top 10, in the final unofficial attendance numbers.
Putting the exclamation point on its third consecutive Big Ten title outright and its ninth in 15 years since joining the league, Penn State finished conference play a perfect 20-0. Since 1985 when double round-robin play was instituted in the Big Ten, only six times has the conference champion gone undefeated, including three occasions in which the Nittany Lions accomplished the feat. Penn State recorded perfect 20-0 seasons in 1998 and 1999 when it went on to claim the Big Ten's only national championship.
For the fourth consecutive season and the sixth time in the past eight years, the Big Ten advanced three or more teams to regional competition in the NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship. Big Ten champion Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin all earned bids to regional competition with the Badgers concluding their season in the regional finals.
In addition, other significant marks were recorded in 2005. Minnesota's Paula Gentil set the NCAA record for career digs (2,791) in the final match of her illustrious career. Penn State's Tortorello snapped the Big Ten's all-time career mark for assists (6,085), with Purdue's Renata Dargan following closely behind. Her coach, Dave Shondell, led the Boilermakers to a 25-9 record, their best since 1987, and their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament third round since 1982, while Michigan State finished year one of the Cathy George era. Two league standouts, Ohio State's Marisa Main and Tortorello, earned AVCA National Player of the Week awards, while a total of 65 student-athletes were honored as Academic All-Big Ten for their success in the classroom.