Press Release courtesy of the Big Ten
Six Big Ten volleyball programs remain on the hunt for a national championship. Illinois, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Penn State and Wisconsin will all play in Sweet 16 matches on Friday. The Illini and Spartans will go head-to-head in University Park, Pa., while Penn State will host Missouri. Nebraska will take on Colorado in Lexington, Ky., Minnesota will face USC in Gainesville, Fla., and Stanford will host Wisconsin.
• The six Big Ten teams still alive – the most remaining of any conference – marks the 10th-consecutive year that at least five Big Ten teams reached the Regional Semifinals and the 23rd-consecutive year the conference saw at least three teams enter the Sweet 16. Seven conference teams have reached the Regional Semifinals twice (2010, 2013) and six teams have appeared a total of six times (2006, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017).
• As one of the top-four remaining seeds, Penn State will host NCAA regional semifinal and final matches. The Nittany Lions lead all regional host sites and rank sixth nationally in average attendance, averaging 3,575 fans per contest.
• Of the Big Ten programs still alive in the NCAA Tournament, Nebraska and Penn State have combined to win eight of the last 11 NCAA Championships with the Nittany Lions collecting six (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014) and the Huskers winning twice (2006, 2015). Overall, Nebraska has made 13 Final Four appearances, while Penn State has made 12. Minnesota has reached the national semifinals five times, Illinois has made three appearances, Wisconsin has made two trips and Michigan State has reached the Final Four once.
• Thirty-two Big Ten students earned American Volleyball Coaches Association All-Region honors. Of those 32, a Big Ten record-setting 25 were first team selections. In addition, Minnesota’s Stephanie Samedy and Wisconsin’s Dana Rettke garnered AVCA North and Northeast Region Freshman of the Year honors, respectively. Nebraska’s Kelly Hunter and Penn State’s Simone Lee were named AVCA North and Northeast Region Player of the Year, respectively, while Penn State head coach Russ Rose was named the AVCA Northeast Region Coach of the Year.
• Four Big Ten teams currently occupy four of the top five spots in kills per set in the NCAA Tournament. Michigan paces the tournament field, averaging 17.0 kills per set, while Wisconsin ranks second with 16.67. Minnesota ranks fourth (16.29), while Michigan State rounds out the list at fifth, averaging 15.86 kills per set.
• Illinois’ Ali Bastianelli currently leads the NCAA Tournament field in total blocks with 18 blocks in 10 sets, while Penn State’s Haleigh Washington is tied for sixth with 12.
• In NCAA Tournament play, Nebraska is hitting at a clip of .353, a mark that leads all Big Ten programs and ranks fourth nationally in the postseason.
• The Big Ten announced its individual award winners, with standouts from Nebraska, Penn State and Wisconsin earning recognition. The Nittany Lions’ Simone Lee was named the Big Ten Player of the Year, Penn State’s Haleigh Washington was tabbed the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, while Nebraska’s Kelly Hunter was named Setter of the Year. Wisconsin’s Dana Rettke earned Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors, while Nebraska head coach John Cook and Penn State head coach Russ Rose were named Big Ten Coach of the Year by the conference’s coaches and media contingent, respectively.
• Three active Big Ten coaches have recorded at least 600 career wins: Penn State’s Russ Rose (1,244), Nebraska’s John Cook (657) and Michigan State’s Cathy George (620). Rose currently ranks second among active Division I coaches in career victories, while Cook and George rank 15th and 19th, respectively. Michigan’s Mark Rosen continues to close in on the milestone, amassing 593 career victories so far and checking in at No. 22.
• Nine Big Ten volleyball standouts were named to the 2017 CoSIDA Academic All-District Volleyball Team as announced by CoSIDA: Iowa’s Annika Olsen, Michigan’s Jenna Lerg and Carly Skjodt, Michigan State’s Alyssa Garvelink and Rachel Minarick, Nebraska’s Kelly Hunter and Sydney Townsend, Penn State’s Haleigh Washington and Purdue’s Ashley Evans.
• For the first time ever, the video challenge review system will be implemented during regional competition. The system was voted on by the DI Women’s Volleyball Committee to also be used during the upcoming championship semifinals and final matches.
• The media credential application for the 2017 Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship is now available. Media interested in covering the event can log on to ncaa.com/media and access the credential application via the link under the credential icon.