Champaign, Ill. - Redshirt freshman outside hitter Jocelynn Birks was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week this afternoon, after a solid week of play for the Illini. Birks was named both Player and Freshman of the Week earlier this season on Sept. 17 after an outstanding weekend at the Time Warner Cable Texas Invitational. Fellow Lyons Township graduate Alexis Viliunas is the only other Illini to earn a weekly honorthis season, tabbing Freshman of the Week honors on Oct. 15 after her Orange and Blue debut.
Birks averaged 4.2 kills, 1.7 digs and 0.8 blocks in a pair of matches against No. 22 Purdue and Indiana. The Willow Springs, Ill., nativetabbed a double-double with 15 kills and 10 digs to go along with three service aces against the Boilermakers. She then had her best performance of the Big Ten season against Indiana, leading the team with 23 kills and a .392 hitting percentage to guide the Illini past the Hoosiers, 3-1.
Four other Big Ten players earned weekly awards this afternoon. Penn State's Ariel Scott earned Player of the Week, Minnesota's Tori Dixon got the nod for Defensive Player of the Week, and sophomores Lexi Dannemiller and Micha Hancock shared Co-Setter of the Week honors.
A junior outside hitter from Ridgewood, N.J., Ariel Scott led No. 3 Penn State to wins against No. 10 Minnesota (3-1) and Wisconsin (3-0). She notched a team-leading 20 kills on .326 hitting with five digs and a block against the Golden Gophers, then hit .357 with a match-high 14 kills against the Badgers.
Junior middle Tori Dixon recorded 18 blocks over the weekend, averaging 2.0 per set including 11 against No. 3 Penn State. The Burnsville, Minn., native notched seven blocks in a five-set road win at No. 15 Ohio State. Additionally, she hit .457 on the week including a .542 clip against the Buckeyes.
Michigan's Lexi Dannemiller earns her first career Setter of the Week honor but her fifth overall weekly award. She averaged 11.5 assists, 2.6 digs and 0.6 blocks per set in wins over No. 4 Nebraska (3-2) and Iowa (3-0). She had a double-double against the Huskers, posting a season-high 64 assists and 14 digs. She led the Wolverines to a .389 hitting percentage over the two matches, including a .451 clip against the Hawkeyes. Additionally, she tallied 28 assists, seven digs and two blocks against Iowa.
Penn State sophomore Micha Hancock garners her sixth Setter of the Week honor this season, after averaging 12.3 assists and 3.7 digs per set in wins over No. 10 Minnesota and Wisconsin. She had double-doubles in bothmatches, with 46 assists and 15 digs against the Golden Gophers and 40 assists and 11 digs against the Badgers. The Edmond, Okla., native recorded nine service aces on the weekend, including seven against Minnesota, and guided the Nittany Lions to a .306 hitting percentage against the Badgers.