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Aug. 17, 2011
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The four-time defending national champion Penn State women's volleyball team has been selected as the Big Ten favorite for the 2011 season by the league coaches, conference officials announced Thursday. This is the seventh consecutive season the Nittany Lions have topped the preseason list. In addition, three members of the squad have earned Preseason All-Big Ten honors from the coaches.
Junior Kristin Carpenter (Mechanicsville, Va.) and sophomores Deja McClendon (Louisville, Ky.) and Katie Slay (Raleigh, N.C.) all picked up preseason accolades. McClendon was a unanimous selection and the awards were the first career honors for all three squad members.
The eight-time defending Big Ten champions top the preseason poll for the eighth time since 2001. Illinois and Nebraska tied for second in the preseason poll and Purdue was slated fourth. Minnesota was picked to finish fifth and Michigan State rounded out the poll at sixth.
Penn State is one of nine schools with student-athletes selected to the Preseason All-Big Ten team and one of five schools with multiple student-athletes honored. Overall, 17 student-athletes were selected to the preseason squad. Joining Carpenter, McClendon and Slay are Illinois' Michelle Bartsch (Sr., OH) and Colleen Ward (Sr., OH), Michigan's Alex Hunt (Sr., OH), Jenilee Rathje (Sr., OH/MB) of Michigan State, Minnesota's Tori Dixon (So., MB) and Ashley Wittman (So., OH), Nebraska's Lauren Cook (Jr., S), Brooke Delano (Sr., MB), and Hannah Werth (Jr., OH), Stephanie Holthus (So., OH) of Northwestern, Purdue's Carly Cramer (Jr., DS), Tiffany Fisher (Sr., MB) and Ariel Turner (Jr., OH) and Wisconsin's Alexis Mitchell (Jr., MB). Bartsch, Ward, Hunt and Delano were unanimous selections.
Carpenter returns for her junior season after serving as the starting setter in 36 of 37 matches in 2010. A member of the NCAA Championship All-Tournament Team and the University Park Regional All-Tournament Team, Carpenter guided the Penn State offense to a .314 hitting percentage in 2010, which led the Big Ten and ranked second nationally. She led the league with 11.52 assists per set and tallied 1,371 assists for the season. Carpenter ranked third on the team in digs with 273 and also totaled 54 blocks for the season.
The AVCA Division I National Freshman of the Year, McClendon was named the NCAA Championship Most Outstanding Player to cap off her first season in a Penn State uniform. An AVCA Second Team All-American, and the only freshman to earn a spot on the 2010 AVCA All-America teams, McClendon was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, a unanimous selection to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team and also earned a spot on the All-Big Ten First Team. McClendon started all 37 matches at outside hitter. She finished 2010 ranked second on the team with 418 kills and 3.43 kills per set. Her .331 attack percentage ranked fourth on the team and seventh in the Big Ten. McClendon also posted 230 digs for the season and tallied 84 total blocks.
Slay is back for her sophomore season as a Nittany Lion after playing in 23 matches and starting 11 in 2010. Slay was fifth on the team last season with 83 total blocks, averaging 1.60 blocks per set. She led the team in blocks seven times. Slay closed out the season with 54 kills on .404 hitting, including tallying the final point in the 2010 NCAA Championship match to secure the Nittany Lions' fourth consecutive title.
The Nittany Lions open the 2011 season on Aug 26-27 in the AVCA Showcase at Rec Hall. Penn State takes on Oregon on Aug. 26 and No. 2 USC on Aug. 27 with both matches starting at 8 p.m. Minnesota challenges USC on Aug. 26 at Rec Hall at 6 p.m. before meeting Oregon on Aug. 27, also at 6 p.m.
For more information on the Penn State women's volleyball team, please visit GoPSUsports.com. The Penn State women's volleyball 2011 season is presented by Rockvale Outlets.