The No. 12 University of Minnesota volleyball team opened the 2011 season against tough competition, at State College, Pa. as the Golden Gophers faced No. 2 Southern California in the AVCA Showcase. The Gophers started the match strong but ultimately fell to USC in five sets, (25-23, 26-24, 13-25, 21-25, 7-15). In the second game of the AVCA Showcase, the four-time defending national champion, Penn State women’s volleyball team opened the 2011 season against Oregon on their home court. Oregon upset top-ranked Penn State, three sets to one, to end the Nittany Lions home winning streak.
Penn State volleyball had won 109 straight matches, but the defending national champions faced an uphill challenge. With nine new freshman added to the Nittany Lions and several key seniors lost to graduation, how would Penn State work to continue to compete for a NCAA title?
Seven Big Ten teams, headlined by four-time reigning national champ Penn State, are ranked in the AVCA Coaches Top 25 Preseason Poll. The Nittany Lions top the poll, while newcomer Nebraska (No. 5) and Illinois (8) also land in the top 10. Minnesota (12), Purdue (13), Ohio State (21) and Michigan (T-24) round out the Big Ten contingent.
Another season, another Penn State women’s volleyball national championship. Legendary coach Russ Rose guided Penn State to its fourth straight national crown in 2010. Yes, that’s four national titles in four seasons, meaning last year’s seniors won the national crown every year of their careers. That’s a lot of hardware and a lot of great memories. The top-ranked Nittany Lions open their quest for an unprecedented fifth straight title vs. Oregon on August 28 at the AVCA Showcase. View the AVCA preseason poll.
Casual Nebraska fans know the school’s steep football tradition, but they don’t know much about the volleyball program. Well, John Cook’s team has been the school’s most successful program in the new millennium, winning nine Big 12 championships and the 2000 and 2006 national titles. Cook, a two-time national coach of the year, says Nebraska has a big challenge ahead of itself in the loaded Big Ten: “I think this is going to be the premier volleyball conference in the country.”