Women's volleyball picked to finish first in Big Ten Preseason Poll

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The results are in and the Penn State women's volleyball team has been picked as the preseason favorite in the Big Ten Preseason Coaches' Poll, as released the conference Friday (Aug. 16) morning. The first-place nod is Penn State's eighth within the last nine years.

The defending Big Ten champion Nittany Lions are also well represented on the All-Big Ten preseason team with five players making the list, the most of any squad within the conference. Senior Ariel Scott (Ridgewood, N.J.) is one of three unanimous selections, and is joined by Megan Courtney (Dayton Ohio), Micha Hancock (Edmond, Okla.), Deja McClendon (Louisville, K.Y.) and Katie Slay (Raleigh, N.C.).

Scott is a two-time Preseason All-Big Ten selection and a 2012 First Team AVCA All-American. The 2012 Big Ten Player of the Year returns to the court for her senior season after starting all 36 games last season. She led the squad with a team-best, 469 kills, averaging 3.75 per set with a .308 hitting clip. The NCAA West Lafayette Regional Championship MVP recorded double-digit kills in 24-of-26 matches.

Courtney returns in 2013 following a standout rookie campaign, including AVCA Mideast Region and Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors. She appeared in all 36 matches for the Nittany Lions, starting 35 at outside hitter. Courtney concluded 2012 with 240 kills, averaging 2.00 per set, while tallying 237 digs, all good for fourth on the team.

Hancock is another AVCA First Team All-American who returns as a leader on the court, having also earned the inaugural Big Ten Setter of the Year award in 2012, along with six Big Ten Setter of the Week honors and two Player of the Week accolades. She handled all the setting for the Nittany Lions in 2012, totaling 1,403 assists, averaging 11.22 per set. Hancock also paced the PSU offense to a .302 hitting percentage last season, which led the Big Ten and ranked third nationally. Hancock also highlighted her sophomore season with an NCAA Tournament record, posting 22 aces in the event, improving her career mark to 172, which ranks fourth the Penn State all-time list.

McClendon earned her third consecutive Preseason All-Big Ten honor after earned her third straight AVCA All-American honors in 2012, being tabbed to the third team. The unanimous All-Big Ten selection eclipsed the 1,000 career kills mark in 2012 and started all 36 matches at outside hitter. The AVCA Mideast Region honoree finished last season ranked second on the squad with 403 kills, averaging 3.25 per set, while also recording at least three digs in 34-of36 matches for the Lions.

Slay is a three-time Preseason All-Big Ten selection and earned her second straight AVCA All-American honors last season, picking up another second team laurel. The All-Big Ten and AVCA Mideast Region selection led the Nittany Lions in blocking with 164 blocks, averaging 1.34 per set, which topped the Big Ten and ranked 27th nationally. Slay registered at least one block in every match in 2012, recording 30 multi-block matches. She also followed with a team-high .462 hitting percentage, which ranked second in the Big Ten and 27th nationally.

The Nittany Lions open the 2013 season hosting the Penn State Invitational on Aug. 30-31. They will welcome Syracuse and Louisville to Rec Hall for the first two matches of the season, following an exhibition match with Dabrowa, a premier professional team from Poland.

Season tickets for the 2013 Penn State women's volleyball season are currently available for purchase by calling 1-800-NITTANY or by visiting the Athletics Ticket Office in the Bryce Jordan Center during normal business hours. Single-game tickets will go on sale Monday, Aug. 19 at noon.

2013 Big Ten Preseason Poll 1. PENN STATE 2. Minnesota 3. Michigan 4. Nebraska 5. Michigan State 6. Illinois

2013 Preseason All-Big Ten Team Jocelynn Birks, Illinois Liz McMahon, Illinois Jennifer Cross, Michigan Lexi Dannemiller, Michigan Lexi Erwin, Michigan LAUREN WICINSKI, Michigan State TORI DIXON, Minnesota Ashley Wittman, Minnesota Stephanie Holthus, Northwestern Megan Courtney, Penn State Micha Hancock, Penn State Deja McClendon, Penn State Ariel Scott, Penn State Katie Slay, Penn State *caps indicates unanimous selection  

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Last Updated August 16, 2013