Who was the best male college athlete from the 2014 sports year? How about the best male U.S. Olympian? Those are just two of the six categories in which a current or former Big Ten athlete is nominated for at this year’s ESPY Awards on July 16 at the Nokia Theatre L.A.
After an unpredictable year that saw possibly the strongest collection of teams in conference history, the postseason has finally arrived. The Big Ten tied a conference record on Sunday when, for the fifth time in league history, eight teams were selected to the NCAA Volleyball Championship.
Unpredictable has been the word most commonly uttered to describe this year’s Big Ten women’s volleyball season. Until the past few weeks, there was a genuine sentiment that any team had a chance to pull off a win, regardless of the matchup. However, as so often has been the case in this conference over the past decade, Penn State has asserted itself and begun to separate from the rest of the pack.
Through 10 matches of the Big Ten season, the nation’s deepest and most decorated conference has lived up to its billing. Upsets have been plentiful, top 15 matchups are the norm and contenders have emerged from the pack. The standings have rarely looked the same on any given week, and early-season surprises have struggled to endure the grind of the league.