Volleyball team picked for sixth in Big Ten

Volleyball team picked for sixth in Big Ten

PARK RIDGE — The Illinois volleyball team is projected to finish sixth in the Big Ten race in a preseason poll of conference coaches.

The poll was announced Friday.

Defending champion Penn State was selected as the league’s preseason favorite for the eighth time in nine years. The Nittany Lions were followed by Minnesota, Michigan, Nebraska, Michigan State and the Illini.

The league made public only the top six teams in the preseason balloting.

Two Illini were named to the 14-player Preseason All-Big Ten team. Junior outside hitter/right-side hitter Liz McMahon was chosen for the second year in a row. Redshirt sophomore outside hitter Jocelynn Birks was a first-time selection.

As a freshman, Birks led Illinois in kills (510) and service aces (27) while ranking  second in digs (262). She became the 10th player in program history to reach 500 kills in a season, finishing her rookie year ninth all-time on the UI single-season kills list and second all-time among freshmen.

The 6-foot-6 McMahon was selected to the 2012 All-Big Ten team after leading the Illini in solo blocks (12) and ranking second on the team in kills (400) and points (470.5).

Three players were unanimous choices for the Preseason All-Big Ten team: Minnesota senior middle blocker Tori Dixon, Penn State senior right-side hitter Ariel Scott and Michigan State senior outside hitter Lauren Wicinski.

2013 PRESEASON POLL

 

1. Penn State

2. Minnesota

3. Michigan

4. Nebraska

5. Michigan State

6. Illinois

 

2013 PRESEASON ALL-BIG TEN VOLLEYBALL TEAM

Jocelynn Birks, Illinois, So., Outside Hitter

Liz McMahon (2), Illinois, Jr., Outside Hitter

Jennifer Cross, Michigan, Sr., Middle Blocker

Lexi Dannemiller, Michigan, Jr., Setter

Lexi Erwin, Michigan, Sr., Outside Hitter

LAUREN WICINSKI, Michigan State, Sr., Outside Hitter

TORI DIXON (3), Minnesota, Sr., Middle Blocker

Ashley Wittman (3), Minnesota, Sr., Outside Hitter

Stephanie Holthus (3), Northwestern, Sr., Outside Hitter

Megan Courtney, Penn State, So., Setter/Outside Hitter

Micha Hancock, Penn State, Jr., Setter

Deja McClendon (3), Penn State, Sr., Outside Hitter

ARIEL SCOTT (2), Penn State, Sr., Rightside Hitter

Katie Slay (3), Penn State, Sr., Middle Hitter

UNANIMOUS SELECTION IN CAPS

(2)  Two-time selection

(3)  Three-time selection

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