Aug. 16, 2012
For the second consecutive season, Tori Dixon (Burnsville, Minn.) and Ashley Wittman (Shakopee, Minn.) have been named Preseason All-Big Ten, announced today by the conference office. Along with the Preseason accolades, Minnesota was ranked fourth in the Big Ten preseason poll. Defending 2011 Big Ten champions, Nebraska, was the No. 1 pick, followed by Penn State, Purdue, Minnesota, Illinois and Ohio State. Only top six teams are decided in the preseason coaches’ poll.
After earning all-freshman honors in 2010, Dixon and Wittman continue to be two of the Big Ten’s best. Both named Preseason All-Big Ten selections last season, the Minnesota duo finished the season as All-Big Ten and All-Mideast honorees. A unanimous All-Big Ten selection, Wittman went on to claim a second-team All-America citation, while Dixon was an All-American honorable mention. Individually, Wittman ranked second in the conference in kills (556) and points (607) and was a three-time all-tournament team selection. A two-time Big Ten Player of the Week, Wittman recorded 18 double doubles. Dixon led the team in service aces (37), second on the team in hitting percentage (.342), kills (334) and points (426.5). As a freshman, Dixon played both as middle blocker and opposite en route to Big Ten Honorable Mention accolades in 2010.
In the list of 14 Preseason All-Big Ten, three hail from Nebraska and Penn State followed by two from Minnesota and Illinois. Along with Dixon and Wittman is Illinois’ Jennifer Beltran and Liz McMahon, Michigan State’s Alexis Matthews, Nebraska’s Lauren Cook, Gina Mancuso and Hannah Werth, Northwestern’s Stephanie Holthus, Ohio State’s Emily Danks, Penn State’s Deja McClendon, Arielle Scott and Katie Slay and Purdue’s Ariel Turner.
Minnesota opens the 2012 campaign at the James Madison Classic in Harrisonburg, Va. The Golden Gophers face host James Madison on Aug. 25 at 11:30 a.m. (CT), and follow up with a 4 p.m. (CT) match against Appalachian State. Minnesota opens the home season on Aug. 31-Sept. 1 when it hosts Miami (OH), Long Island and Albany in the Diet Coke Classic.