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Big Ten Volleyball boasts six teams in AVCA Top 25 Poll

by | Oct 14, 2021 | Headlines, Volleyball | 0 comments


  • The fourth week of Big Ten Conference action gets underway Wednesday with a trio of matches, two of which will be televised nationally on Big Ten Network/FOX Sports app (Northwestern at Minnesota) and ESPNU/ESPN app (Indiana at Nebraska). This week’s schedule also features two top-15 matches, both including Purdue, as the sixth-ranked Boilermakers visit No. 7 Ohio State on Friday (BTN) and play host to No. 15 Penn State on Sunday (ESPN2).
  • The Big Ten continues to be tied for the national lead with its six teams in the AVCA Top 25 poll, all now among the top 15 in the country (of note, no other conference has more than three top-15 squads this week). Wisconsin is the top Big Ten vote-getter this week, ranking No. 3, followed by sixth-ranked Purdue, No. 7 Ohio State and No. 9 Nebraska, with Minnesota 12th and Penn State 15th. Illinois and Michigan are also receiving votes in the latest poll, marking the third consecutive week and fifth time in eight weeks this season that eight Big Ten programs have been ranked or receiving votes in the AVCA poll.
  • Six Big Ten programs appear in the top 20 and eight in the top 35 of the latest NCAA RPI report released Monday (no other conference has more than four teams in the top 20 of the current RPI). Wisconsin is No. 4 in the RPI, with Purdue next at No. 6 and Ohio State standing 10th. They are followed by No. 14 Nebraska, No. 16 Penn State and No. 20 Minnesota, with Michigan (31st) and Illinois (32nd) in position to join the RPI Top 25.
  • The Big Ten has four of the nation’s top 10 teams in terms of hitting percentage, according to Wednesday’s NCAA statistical rankings. Wisconsin is fourth in the country at .321, with Ohio State No. 6 at .297, Purdue eighth at .286 and Penn State 10th at .282. No other conference has more than two schools among the top 10 in the national hitting percentage rankings as of Wednesday.
  • Big Ten programs rank 1-2 in the nation in three NCAA statistical categories this week. In kills per set, Ohio State is first (14.91) just ahead of Wisconsin (14.90), with the same two schools leading in assists per set (OSU – 14.04; WIS – 13.54). In blocks per set, Maryland is the nation’s leader at 3.18, followed by Penn State at 3.13.
  • Five of the top 20 blockers in the country play in the Big Ten, paced by NCAA leader Rainelle Jones of Maryland (1.90 blocks per set). Penn State’s Kaitlyn Hord is fifth (1.58) and Michigan State’s Naya Gros is sixth (1.57), with Purdue’s Taylor Trammell in 13th (1.40) and Wisconsin’s Dana Rettke ranking 19th (1.37).
  • Five Big Ten players are hitting better than .400 this season and four rank among the top 25 in the nation. Dana Rettke of Wisconsin is No. 1 in the nation (.500), with Ohio State’s Rylee Rader standing third (.474). Michigan State’s Rebecka Poljan is 11th (.421) and Penn State’s Allie Holland ranks 21st (.406). Purdue’s Raven Colvin is hitting .466 but has not yet met the minimum for NCAA ranking.
  • No conference in the country has proven to be a better draw than the Big Ten, with 10 conference programs ranked in the top 25 in the latest NCAA attendance rankings through Sunday’s matches, including the top three and seven of the top 15 in the nation. Nebraska remains No. 1 (8,148 fans per match), with Wisconsin second (7,540) and Minnesota third (5,151). Penn State is up to No. 6 (2,964), followed by No. 11 Michigan State (2.457), No. 12 Illinois (2,387) and No. 13 Purdue (2,320). Michigan is next at No. 21 (1,637), with No. 22 Indiana (1,468) and No. 23 Ohio State (1,438) also among the top 25. By comparison, no other conference has more than three schools in the top 25 or one in the top 10.
  • Another example of the Big Ten’s attendance strength — of the 19 highest-attended NCAA Division I volleyball matches this season, all 19 featured a Big Ten school, including 10 at Nebraska and eight at Wisconsin (the 19th was a nation-leading 11,279 fans for Nebraska’s sweep at in-state foe Creighton on Sept. 8). Taking it further, of the 30 highest-attended Division I matches this year, 25 of them included a Big Ten school (with five more hosted by Minnesota, plus Northwestern’s 3-1 win at Colorado State on Aug. 28).
  • The Big Ten has announced the most robust volleyball television package in its history with a record-setting 53 matches scheduled for linear television coverage (47 on Big Ten Network, six on ESPN2/ESPNU), with the possibility of further broadcasts to be announced at a later date. In addition, all conference contests and many non-conference matches not scheduled for linear coverage are slated to be broadcast live on B1G+, the Big Ten Network’s subscription streaming service (bigtenplus.com).
  • Nine Big Ten alums played a vital role in the United States winning the gold medal at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Illinois’ Michelle Bartsch-Hackley and Jordyn Poulter (plus Erin Virtue, who was an assistant coach for Team USA), Nebraska’s Jordan Larson, Kelsey Robinson and Justine Wong-Orantes, Penn State’s Micha Hancock and Haleigh Washington and Purdue’s Annie Drews helped the U.S. earn its first-ever Olympic gold medal. Five other Big Ten alums served as alternates for Team USA — Minnesota’s Tori Dixon, Sarah Wilhite Parsons and Hannah Tapp, Penn State’s Megan Courtney and Wisconsin’s Lauren Carlini.
  • For the 15th consecutive season, Big Ten volleyball honored more than 70 Academic All-Big Ten standouts in 2020-21, as a record-setting 136 volleyball student-athletes were recognized, including a trio of Academic All-America selections in first-team honorees Lauren Swartz (Michigan State) and Sydney Hilley (Wisconsin), as well as second-team choice Lexi Sun (Nebraska).