Illinois advanced to the school’s first NCAA volleyball championship match with a win over USC in five sets (25-27, 25-18, 25-22, 18-25, 15-10). Illinois will face UCLA for the title on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. ET live on ESPN2. Relive an entire live blog at FightingIllini.com, check out their photo gallery, and find the entire updated interactive tournament bracket at NCAA.com. NCAA.com also has video highlights. You can also follow the Illinois volleyball team’s Twitter account @IlliniVball. Earlier, UCLA advanced to its first national championship match since 1994 with a sweep of Florida State in the other semifinal (25-16, 25-17, 25-21).
In today’s Big Ten Blast, we touch on Illinois advancing to the National Semifinal round of the NCAA Women’s Volleyball Tournament for the third time in school history and the first time in 23 years. The Illini reached back-to-back Final Fours in 1987 and 1988. In Thursday’s NCAA Semifinal Match Illinois (31-4) faces USC (29-4) at 9 p.m. ET. Read more at FightingIllini.com and track the entie tournament at NCAA.com. In other news, Jerry Sandusky waived his preliminary hearing. Find the latest headlines on the Penn State scandal on the team report page.
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BTN2Go, BTN and NET plan to offer live coverage of the five Big Ten teams that are hosting NCAA Women’s Volleyball Tournament action this weekend.
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(BigTen.org) PARK RIDGE, Ill. – The Big Ten announced its postseason volleyball awards on Tuesday, with student-athletes from two schools earning recognition following the conclusion of the 2011 regular season. Purdue’s Ariel Turner has been named the Big Ten Player of the Year by a vote of the conference’s coaches, while Boilermaker head coach Dave Shondell has been tabbed Coach of the Year by Big Ten coaches and media. Penn State’s Katie Slay and Micha Hancock have also earned individual honors, as Slay has been selected as the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and Hancock takes the Freshman of the Year award.
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(BigTen,org) The Big Ten will be well-represented at the 2011 NCAA Volleyball Championship, as eight conference teams have been selected to the tournament’s field of 64 for the second consecutive season. The eight chosen squads ties a conference record and gives the Big Ten the most tournament teams of any conference in the country. See the official NCAA.com bracket.
(GopherSports.com) The No. 19 University of Minnesota volleyball team beat border rival Wisconsin in straight sets (25-21, 25-21, 28-26) Wednesday at the Sports Pavilion. The Golden Gophers (17-11, 10-9) swept the Badgers this season, also defeating UW on Oct. 19 in Madison, Wis. in five sets. Minnesota was led on the court by sophomore sensations Ashley Wittman and middle blocker Tori Dixon, both of which tied for match-highs with 14 kills. Read the full recap at GopherSports.com.
(Huskers.com) The No. 2 Nebraska volleyball team (24-3, 17-2) clinched the first Big Ten Conference title in school history Tuesday night with a 3-0 (25-14, 25-14, 25-19) sweep of the Iowa Hawkeyes at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Nebraska has now captured 32 conference titles overall. Before the Huskers made history on Tuesday night, Penn State had previously won the conference crown for eight-straight seasons. Minnesota claimed the title in 2002.