Lexi Rodriguez headlines the preseason All-Big Ten team for Nebraska as the Huskers came in second behind Wisconsin according to a poll off the league’s coaches.
The Badgers, who have won four straight conference titles and are coming off a 28-4 season (19-1 Big Ten), received 13 of the 14 first-place votes. Nebraska went 26-6 including 16-4 to finish second in the league last season. Minnesota (third place in 2022), Penn State (fifth place) and Purdue (sixth place) round out the preseason top five.
Rodriguez is one of three unanimous selections on the 15-player preseason all-conference team. The junior from Sterling, Illinois, was fourth in the Big Ten in digs per game last year at 4.26 while orchestrating the best defense in the country as the Huskers allowed their opponents to hit just .128. She was a unanimous pick for the postseason All-Big Ten team last year while earning second-team AVCA All-America honors. In 2021, she was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, an AVCA First-Team All-American and the AVCA National Freshman of the Year.
The other two unanimous picks are Penn State setter Mac Podraza and Purdue outside hitter Eva Hudson. Podraza, the 2022 Big Ten Setter of the Year, spent the past four years at Ohio State before joining the Nittany Lions for her extra season of eligibility. In total, five of the 15 players selected for the preseason team are transfers from other Big Ten schools. Wisconsin led the way with four selections including returners opposite hitter Devyn Robinson and outside hitter Sarah Franklin and transfers middle blocker Carter Booth (Minnesota) and outside hitter Temi Thomas-Ailera (Northwestern). Minnesota was second with three honorees in libero Kylie Murr (an Ohio State transfer who won Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in 2022), setter Melanie Shaffmaster and outside hitter Taylor Landfair (the 2022 Big Ten Player of the Year).
Ohio State middle blocker Rylee Rader and outside hitter Emily Londot, Penn State outside hitter Jess Mruzik (a Michigan transfer), Indiana setter Camryn Haworth and Illinois outside hitter Raina Terry round out the preseason All-Big Ten team.
Full Big Ten Preseason Poll Results:
4. Penn State
6. Ohio State
12. Michigan State