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BKANR - 2014 Volleyball Review/Preview - Week 4

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Point U! Gophers win 9 straight sets to win the Rocket Invite in Toledo to end the non-conference schedule. Read on for a review of last weekend and a preview of the upcoming Big Ten home openers against Ohio State and Penn State.

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Review

Game 1 vs Duquesne (Friday, 9/19/14 @ 9:00 am CST)

The Gopher's dominated this match over the Dukes of Duquense from start to finish. #8 Sarah Wilhite (SO) had 12 kills while #4 Paige Tapp (SO) hit an amazing .875! Wilhite & P. Tapp also each had a team high 4 blocks while #2 Erica Handley (SO) had a great match with 30 assists. #1 Daly Santana (JR) led the team with 9 digs to go along with her seven kills but only played in two sets. The Gophers played two liberos (designated defensive specialist) in the match with #5 Alyssa Goehner (FR) playing the first two sets before moving to outside hitter in the last set and being replaced as libero by #17 Dalianliz Rosado FR). They had 8 and 5 digs respectively. The Gophers won in three sets, 25-17, 25-17, & 25-19. Read the official Gopher recap here.

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Game 2 vs Toledo (Friday, 9/19/14 @ 6:00 pm CST

The Gopher's kept up the momentum from the morning game to defeat the Rockets of Toledo, the tournament hosts, in three straight sets; 25-13, 25-18, & 25-18. Wilhite led the Gophers again with 14 kills while hitting .452; Santana added 12 Kills of her own while both #16 Adrianna Nora (SR) & #7 Hannah Tapp (SO) each had 10 kills. P. Tapp kept up her great hitting with a team high .833. P. Tapp also tied with the team high in blocks along with Handley who each had 4. Handley led the team again with 42 assists. Goehner & Rosado both had 11 digs. Read the official Gopher recap here.

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Game 3 vs IPFW (Saturday, 9/20/14 @ 12:00 noon CST)

The Mastodons of IPFW would give the Gophers their closest set of the tournament but still proved no match for the Golden Gophers. The Gophers won the final match the same as the first two, with 3 straight sets; 25-11, 25-14, & 25-23. Wilhite again shined by hitting .462 with 16 kills to lead the team in both categories. Handley again led the team with 37 assists while Goehner had 14 digs and P. Tabb had 10 blocks. Santana & Nora had 15 & 10 kills respectively. Read the official Gopher recap here.

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With her strong attacking in each of the three games, Wilhite was named Rocket Invite MVP; an honor a Gopher has taken in each of their three tournaments this year. Santana & Nora were each named to the All-Tournament Team. The Gophers end the non-conference schedule ranked #17 (up 2 spots) in the nation with a 10-1 (0-0) record.

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Preview

Now it gets real, the Big Ten season. For those of you who don't follow women's volleyball, the Big Ten is one of the premiere conferences. As of today, seven Big Ten teams are ranked in the Top 25 (#3 PS, #4 WI, #9 NB, #11 Purdue, #16 Illinois, #17 MN, #25 MSU) with Northwestern sitting at #34. Last hear the Gophers went 15-5 in the Big Ten (29-7 overall) featuring one of the best players in the nation, Tori Dixon. They year before (2012), they also went 15-5 (27-8 overall). Can the Gophers improve on those results while having such a young team? They have only one junior (Santana) and two seniors (Nora & #12 Morgan Bohl) on the team, along with five frosh and six sophomores. Let's hope so and lets #PACTHEPAV to help them!

Vs. Ohio State (Wednesday, 9/24/14, at 7:00 pm CST)

The Gopher's will open Big Ten play at home against Ohio State on Wednesday. The Buckeye's are 9-3 (0-0) so far on the season but none of their wins are against top teams. The Gophers were 2-0 against Ohio State last year and should beat the again this week but Ohio State does bring more experience with 4 seniors, 4 juniors, 4 sophomores, and 5 frosh on their squad. They are led by head coach Geoff Carlston who is in his seventh year. Watch out for #12 Erin Sekinger (SR) and #10 Taylor Sandbothe (SO) who lead the Buckeyes with kills, while #14 Maggie Heim (SO) leads the team in hitting percentage (.667). Sandbothe leads the team in blocks with 11 BS & 49 BA while #3 Valeria Leon (SO) leads the team with 186 digs.

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Vs. Penn State (Saturday, 9/27/14, at 7:00 pm CST)

After Ohio State, Gophers will get a real challenge when they face #3 Penn State on Saturday, for their second home game of the Big Ten season. Penn state defeated the Gophers both times they met last year. The Nittany Lions are currently 12-1 with their only loss coming against #1 Stanford. They have a quality win over #24 Kansas and have won 11 of their 13 games in 3 sets, with only American needing 4 sets plus their loss to Stanford with was split 3-2 (5 sets). Penn State is coached by Russ Rose who is in his 36th year. That's right, 36. They are led by #5 Ali Frantti (FR) with 39 kills, & #7 Nia Grant (SR) in hitting percentage (.525). On defense #4 Dominique Gonzalez (SR) has 140 digs Grant leads with blocks (5 BS, 31 BA).

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Expect the Gophers to go 1-1, but lets cheer them on to 2-0. Go GOPHERS! SKI-U-MAH!

Gopher Team Leaders to Date:

Kills - Daly Santana - 158
Kills - Sarah Wilhite - 149
Assists - Erica Handley - 309
Assists - Katie Schau - 142
Blocks - Paige Tapp - 54 (4 BS, 50 BA)
Blocks - Hannah Tapp - 54 (5 BS, 49 BA)
Diggs - Santana - 104
Diggs - Sarah Wilhite - 39
Recept - Alysaa Goehner - 38
Recept - Dalianliz Rosado - 37

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