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Nov. 26, 2007
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Following its fifth consecutive outright conference title, the top-ranked Penn State women's volleyball team added seven more names into its record books. Junior middle hitter Christa Harmotto (Aliquippa, Pa.) was named the Big Ten Player of the Year, freshman middle hitter Arielle Wilson (Broadview, Ill.) earned the Lion's sixth straight Big Ten Freshman of the Year honor and head coach Russ Rose was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year, by both the coaches and the media, for the ninth time in his career.
In addition to Harmotto, junior outside hitter Nicole Fawcett (Zanesfield, Ohio), sophomore setter Alisha Glass (Leland, Mich.) and sophomore outside hitter Megan Hodge (Durham, N.C.) all earned First Team All-Big Ten honors, with Fawcett and Hodge picking up the unanimous nod. Wilson and redshirt freshman Blair Brown (Purcellville, Va.) were both selected to the Big Ten All-Freshman team and senior middle hitter Melissa Walbridge (Yardley, Pa.) was selected as Penn State's Sportsmanship honoree.
Harmotto is Penn State's third consecutive Big Ten Player of the Year as Hodge earned the honor last season and Sam Tortorello picked up the honor in 2005. On the list of newcomers honored, Wilson joins Hodge (2006), Fawcett (2005), senior Kate Price (Fraser, Mich./2004), Cassy Salyer (2003) and Tortorello (2002), along with four-time All-American Bonnie Bremner, who picked up the award in 1996.
Rose picks up his ninth conference Coach of the Year accolade while the Lions' four All-Big Ten honors bring Penn State's total number of All-Big Ten selections to 68 since joining the league for the 1991 season. Wilson and Brown are the Lions' 10th and 11th members of the Big Ten All-Freshman team.
Earning her first career Big Ten Player of the Year and her third consecutive First Team All-Big Ten nod, Harmotto is a three-time Big Ten Player of the Week along with earning ESPN The Magazine First Team Academic All-District honors. Named to the all-tournament teams at the Penn State Classic, Yale Classic and the Holiday Inn Downtown Husker Classic, Harmotto leads the team and the Big Ten and ranks second in the country in hitting percentage (.483) while averaging 3.12 kills per game. She sits second on the Lion squad and in the conference with 1.63 blocks per game, setting a season-high with 12 blocks at Illinois on Oct. 19. Harmotto has 18 double-digit kill matches and 22 contests of hitting .400 or better, along with producing five or more blocks 19 times, leading the team on 15 occasions.
Wilson is a two-time Big Ten Player of the Week and is the first freshman since Michigan's Megan Bowman in 2003 and the second-ever to lead the Big Ten in blocking, owning a 1.83 blocks per game average, including a 1.78 bpg mark in league matches. She earned her first career start versus Stanford on Sept. 15, recording 10 kills and four blocks in the match with the Cardinal. Wilson notched a career high 13 kills at Iowa on Oct. 5 and posted a personal best 10 blocks versus Wisconsin on Nov. 16, having led the Lions in blocks eight times.
Rose earns his ninth Big Ten Coach of the Year honor, also picking up the award in 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2003, 2005 and 2006. Holding a career record of 919-159 in his 29 seasons for a nation-leading winning percentage of .853, Rose guided the Nittany Lions to their 11th Big Ten title in 17 seasons since joining the Big Ten in 1991, and became the seventh squad since double-round robin play began in 1985 to finish the Big Ten schedule with an undefeated 20-0 conference record. He has led his teams to 27 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, one of only two schools to appear in every postseason event, while collecting his 19th conference title this season after winning eight straight Atlantic 10 titles from 1983-1990. He has coached at least one All-American in 27 of his 28 seasons, including 17 conference Players of the Year in the last 23 years. Off the court, his players have earned 96 Academic All-Big Ten honors in the last 16 years.
Fawcett earns her third consecutive All-Big Ten honor after also picking up the accolade in her first two seasons. One of four unanimous selections to this year's squad, Fawcett ranks second on the Penn State team and sixth in the Big Ten with 4.49 kills per game. She also sits fifth on the team in hitting percentage (.301) and became only the eighth player in Penn State history to record more than 1,400 career kills. A two-time AVCA All-American, Fawcett has three double-doubles for the season, including a season-high 11 digs at Michigan on Nov. 24. She set a new school record and career high with 31 kills on .414 hitting against No. 18 Cal Poly, one of her 25 double-digit kill matches. Fawcett is also dangerous from behind the service line, racking up a team-high 35 aces, and recorded a career-high seven blocks at Northwestern on Sept. 22.
Glass earns her first career All-Big Ten award as she was named to the All-Freshman team a year ago. She was named the Sports Imports/AVCA National and Big Ten Player of the Week on Nov. 19 after leading the Nittany Lions to a combined .350 hitting percentage in wins over No. 9 Wisconsin and Illinois, having three players average 4.10 kills per game. Glass is setting the Nittany Lions to a Big Ten-best .337 hitting percentage, also good for second in the nation, is averaging 12.97 assists per game and has five double-doubles for the year. She set a new school record with 14 blocks at Illinois.
Another unanimous First Team All-Big Ten selection for the second consecutive season, Hodge became the 19th player in Penn State history to record more than 1,000 career kills, reaching the milestone during the Michigan match on Nov. 24 in only her second collegiate season. Named the Sports Imports/AVCA National and Big Ten Player of the Week on Sept. 10, Hodge leads the team and ranks third in the Big Ten with 4.63 kills per game. She has at least 11 kills in every match of the season and six contests with 20 or more kills. An all-around player, Hodge has 11 double-doubles for the season and has led the team in kills on 19 occasions, also averaging 2.65 digs per game.
Brown picks up her first career Big Ten postseason honor as she is averaging 2.00 kills per game on .375 hitting from the right side with 0.98 blocks per game in her first competitive season. She earned her first career start against Stanford on Sept. 15, posting 12 kills on .409 hitting. Brown ranks third in the Big Ten in hitting percentage and also sits fourth on the team in blocking. She recorded a match- and career-high 17 kills at Iowa on Oct. 27 and racked up nine blocks against Virginia Commonwealth on Sept. 9, also leading the team in blocks in four occasions.
Walbridge earned Penn State's Sportsmanship recognition for her actions on and off the court. A Second Team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District honoree for her 3.85 grade point average in Integrative Arts, Walbridge is averaging 1.24 blocks per game and 1.73 kills per game on .411 hitting. The middle hitter set a new career high earlier this season with 11 kills against Cal Poly on Aug. 31 and has 10 multiple-block matches for the year.
Top-ranked and No. 3 seed Penn State opens play in its 27th consecutive NCAA Tournament on Friday, Nov. 30 as it hosts Siena in the first round at 7:30 p.m. at Rec Hall. The winner of that match will take on the winner of the 5:00 p.m. match between Albany and Cleveland State in the second round, to be held on Saturday, Dec. 1 at 7:00 p.m. at Rec Hall. The winner of that match advances to the NCAA Regional Semifinals, slated for Friday, Dec. 8, also at Rec Hall.
Tickets for the NCAA First and Second Rounds are on sale now at the Bryce Jordan Center or by calling 814-865-5555 or 1-800-863-3336
For more information on the Penn State women's volleyball team, please visit www.GoPSUsports.com.
A complete listing of the 2007 All-Big Ten Team and individual honors follows:
All-Big Ten Team
KATIE BRUZDZINSKI, Sr., OH, MICH (2nd selection)
Ashley Schatzle, Sr., OH, MSU (2)
Jessy Jones, Sr., MB, MINN (1)
DANIELLE MEYER, Sr., MB, OSU (3)
Nicole Fawcett, Jr., OH, PSU (3)
Alisha Glass, So., S, PSU (1)
Christa Harmotto, Jr., MH, PSU (3)
Megan Hodge, So., OH, PSU (2)
Stephanie Lynch, Jr., MH, PUR (2)
Brittney Dolgner, So., OH, WIS (2)
Taylor Reineke, Sr., MB, WIS (3)
Jackie Simpson, Sr., S, WIS (2)
Honorable Mention All-Big Ten
Victoria Brown, Sr., MB, ILL
Laura DeBruler, Fr., OH, ILL
Lauren Ditteon, Sr., RS, IND
Katie Johnson, Sr., OH, MSU
Jocelyn Wack, Sr., S, WIS
Big Ten Player of the Year
Christa Harmotto, Jr., MH, PSU
Big Ten Defensive of the Year
Stesha Selsky, Sr., LIB, MICH
Big Ten Freshman of the Year
Arielle Wilson, MH, PSU
Unanimous selections in ALL CAPS