Conference play opens this weekend with all 14 teams in action. Four matches will be carried on BTN or ESPNU, with the remaining matches streaming on BTN Plus.
• Seven Big Ten programs earned spots in the latest AVCA poll, with five teams ranked among the top10: No. 3 Nebraska, No. 4 Penn State, No. 6 Wisconsin, No. 7 Minnesota, No. 8 Illinois, No. 16 Purdue and No. 18 Michigan.
• In the first four weeks of non-conference play, the Big Ten has amassed a 127-26 combined record, a winning percentage of .830. Ranked Big Ten teams currently have a 64-5 record and a .928 winning percentage.
• Big Ten teams currently occupy seven of the top 15 positions on the national blocks per set rankings, including three in the top five spots. Penn State leads the country with 3.37 blocks per set, followed by Rutgers (3.2) in second. Minnesota ranks fifth with 3.0, Illinois is sixth (2.95), Michigan State is ninth (2.91), Wisconsin is 10th (2.84), and Indiana is No. 11 with 2.84 blocks per set.
• Four Big Ten teams currently occupy top-20 spots nationally in kills per set. Michigan ranks fifth with 14.79 kills per set, Minnesota is tied for ninth with 14.44, Northwestern is No. 18 (14.19) and Illinois is No. 20 with 14.13 kills per set.
• Seven Big Ten students rank in the top 15 positions for blocks per set. Wisconsin’s Dana Rettke leads the nation, averaging 1.9 blocks per set. Nebraska’s Callie Schwarzenbach is No. 6 (1.6), Illinois’ Ali Bastianelli is No. 7 (1.56), Rutgers’ Stasa Miljevic is eighth with 1.52, Minnesota’s Taylor Morgan is 10th (1.52), Penn State’s Kaitlyn Hord is 11th (1.52) and Penn State’s Serena Gray is No. 15 with 1.48 blocks per set.
• Big Ten students currently occupy six of the top 25 spots nationally in hitting percentage. Michigan State’s Naya Gros leads the Big Ten and ranks second nationally with a .481 hitting percentage, Purdue’s Blake Mohler is No. 14 (.420), Minnesota’s Regan Pittman is No. 15 (.420) and Illinois’ Ali Bastianelli is 17th with .418. Penn State’s Kaitlyn Hord is No. 21 (.413) and Ohio State’s Lauren Witte is No. 21, hitting a clip of .408.
• Four active Big Ten coaches have recorded at least 600 career wins: Penn State’s Russ Rose (1,255), Nebraska’s John Cook (701), Michigan State’s Cathy George (633) and Michigan’s Mark Rosen (604). Rose ranks first among active Division I coaches in career victories, while Cook ranks 10th, George is 15th and Rosen is No. 18.
• Based on average attendance, the Big Ten currently has seven of the nation’s top 25 programs. Nebraska leads the nation, averaging 8,117 fans per contest, Wisconsin is second with 7,052 and Minnesota is fourth at 4,844. Penn State checks in at No. 9 with 3,279, Purdue is 16th with 2,077, Ohio State is 18th with 1,903, and No. 21 Iowa averages 1,510 patrons per contest.
• The 2018 Big Ten volleyball television package features 39 contests televised live, with 33 of those matches airing live on BTN, and highlighted by eight doubleheaders. Six other matches will be carried live on ESPNU. This week, Ohio State at No. 6 Wisconsin, No. 5 Penn State at No. 7 Minnesota and No. 18 Michigan at No. 3 Nebraska will be live on BTN. Michigan State at No. 3 Nebraska is slated to air live on ESPNU.