CHAMPAIGN — Big Ten volleyball is shaping up to be as competitive as ever this fall. Case in point, Illinois coming in at No. 14 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association preseason poll but still fifth when it comes to Big Ten teams. That held true in the Big Ten preseason poll released Tuesday.
CHAMPAIGN — Janet Rayfield has her deepest rosters in a decade. Both in terms of number of players — the 30 Illinois soccer players are more than in any of the past nine seasons — and in an experienced group with 18 upperclassmen.
CHAMPAIGN — Reagan Robishaw’s first tackle during Illinois’ opening preseason practice drew more of a reaction from one of her teammates than from the Illini midfielder herself.
“I didn’t even think twice about it until afterward,” Robishaw said. “(Taylore Peterson) was like, ‘How did it feel?’ And I’m like, ‘How did what feel?’ ”
PODCAST: Sports Talk 08-18-16: Play now!
After the latest in sports news, Steve talks to Illini Football Coach Lovie Smith, Illini Golf Coach Mike Small, Illini Soccer Coach Janet Rayfield, and David Schuster (670 The Score-Chicago).
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Where they stand: Big Ten preseason poll
1. Penn State (22-3-2, 8-2-1 Big Ten in 2015)
Defending national champs have sat atop preseason poll every year since it began in 2003.
2. Rutgers (19-4-3, 7-2-2)
Leading scorer Colby Ciarrocca (nine goals) returns after leading Scarlet Knights to College Cup.
Friday’s probable starters: Kara Marbury, 5-10, Jr. (9 goals, 4 assists last season); Patricia George, 5-8, So. (0 goals, 0 assists)
CHAMPAIGN — Illinois reached the NCAA tournament in 10 of Janet Rayfield’s first 12 seasons as coach. The past two seasons, however, are the first back-to-back the Illini — who open the season at 7 p.m. on Friday at home against Morehead State — have missed out on postseason play.