Jocelynn Birks Named Big Ten Player, Freshman of the Week
Sept. 17, 2012
PARK RIDGE, Ill. - Redshirt freshman Jocelynn Birks was named both Player and Freshman of the Week today by the Big Ten Conference. Birks is the first member of the Illini to earn a weekly award this season, and the first freshman to receive a Big Ten honor since teammate Anna Dorn was named Defensive Player and Freshman of the Week on Oct. 10, 2011. Birks is the first Illinois freshman to be named Big Ten Player of the Week since Volunteer Coach Laura DeBruler earned the honor twice in October of 2007.
Birks led the Illini to wins over No. 6 Texas (3-2), UCF (3-0) and Cincinnati (3-1) this past weekend, as Illinois swept the Time Warner Cable Texas Invitational in Austin. The young outside hitter recorded double-doubles in all three matches, averaging 5.0 kills and 3.3 digs per set. A native of Willow Springs, Ill., Birks led all players at the invitational with 60 kills and 65 points en route to earning MVP honors.
Michigan State junior Alexis Matthews was named Defensive Player of the Week and Northwestern senior Madalyn Shalter earned her second-straight Setter of the Week award. Mathews helped the Spartans to 3-set victories over Presbyterian and Georgetown and a 3-1 defeat of the College of Charleston to win the Holiday Inn Charleston/Mt. Pleasant Tournament. The Detroit, Mich., native recorded 17 blocks to average 1.7 per set, including a math-high seven blocks against the Cougars.
Shalter helped Northwestern capture the Wildcat Classic title with wins over Delaware (3-0), Saint Louis (3-0) and Western Michigan (3-10. She had two double-doubles in the three matches, including 45 assists and 17 digs against the Broncos.
The Illini return to action on Friday night, when they host No. 12 Minnesota in the Big Ten opener at 7 p.m. at Huff Hall. The match, which is Community Church Youth Group Night, will air live on the Big Ten Network.