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Minnesota Volleyball: Wisconsin and Michigan State Preview

#3 Minnesota has a high stakes match in Madison, against the #1 Badgers Wednesday evening on BTN. Saturday they travel to East Lansing to face #14 Michigan State.

Gopher Volleyball - Sarah Wilhite
Via Twitter.com/GopherVBall

The Gophers start a four game road stretch with a match in Madison. A win over the Badgers could help Minnesota reclaim the number one ranking and give Wisconsin their first conference loss. Be sure to tune in Wednesday night at 8:00 CT on BTN. Saturday at 7:00 CT Minnesota faces the Michigan State Spartans. Michigan State is a dangerous team who pushed Nebraska to five sets before losing.

Minnesota (13-2, 5-1) rebounded nicely from the loss to Penn State. Against Northwestern the Gophers kept the Wildcats’ best player in check en route to a quick three set win. In the last couple matches coach Hugh McCutcheon has been using Alyssa Goehner as a defensive specialist instead of Katie Schau. Goehner has done well for being thrown into the lineup.

Key Players

class, position, #, name- stats, (statistical rank nationally, in the conference)
Postions: M- middle blocker, OH- outside hitter, Opp- opposite hitter, DS- defensive specialist, L- libero, S- setter
Stats: K/S- kills/set, B/S- blocks/set, D/S- digs/set. .000- hitting percentage, A/S- assists/set SA/S- service aces/set

Fr. OH 19 Alexis Hart- 2.98 K/S, .281

So. S 11 Samantha Seliger-Swenson- 11.74 A/S (5, 1), 2.23 D/S, .64 B/S, 0.30 SA/S (15)

Jr. M 13 Molly Lohman- .351 (10), 1.28 B/S (39, 5)

Jr. L 17 Dalianliz Rosado- 3.92 D/S (6)

Sr. M 7 Hannah Tapp- 3.2 K/S (13), .370 (7), 1.10 B/S

Sr. M 4 Paige Tapp- 1.21 B/S (7)

Sr. OH 8 Sarah Wilhite- 4.13 K/S (39, 2), .317, 2.47 D/S, 0.32 SA/S (9)

Wisconsin Preview

Coming into the match the Badgers are riding a nine-game win streak and are ranked #1 for the first time in program history. Wisconsin has a versatile lineup that they mix up as need be. Coach Sheffield has used Kelli Bates as a hitter and libero over the course of the season. When the Badgers need a lift from the right side Romana Kriskova plays; Kriskova also has a brutal top spin serve. Despite the dynamic lineup the Badgers have had great success and thus far it has worked very well for them. There is some stability in the lineup though among the middle blockers, Tionna Williams and Haleigh Nelson are both great blockers and hitters. Wisconsin’s great passing has allowed them to get the ball to their middles with regularity, it helps too having an All-American setter, Lauren Carlini. So far this season the Badgers are 7-1 against ranked opponents.

Key Players

Sr. M 13 Haleigh Nelson- 2.58 K/S, .397 (22, 5), 1.19 B/S (9), 0.3 SA/S (15)

Fr. L 19 M.E. Dodge- 2.51 D/S

So. M 11 Tionna Williams- 2.35 K/S, .399 (21, 4), 1.52 B/S (12, 3)

Sr. S 1 Lauren Carlini- 11.34 A/S (11, 2), .92 B/S, 2.68 D/S (15), 0.32 SA/S (9)

Fr. OH 23 Molly Haggerty- 3.34 K/S (10), 2.46 D/S

Jr. OH 3 Lauryn Gillis- 2.83 K/S, .269

Jr. OH 4 Kelli Bates- 3.79 D/S (7)

It will come down to who has the best ball control in this match. In serve receive the Badgers have the advantage only committing 0.49 serve receive errors each set, best in the conference. Hopefully lessons learned from the Penn State match will carry over as I expect this match to go four or five sets. The Badgers haven’t lost at home, but they did have to go four sets against #24 Illinois last weekend.

Michigan State Preview

Similar to the Gophers the Spartans are an experienced squad. Michigan State is very balanced and can get kills all along the net from all of their hitters. Another thing the Spartans do well is serve. Michigan State is the fourth best serving team in the country, best in the conference, averaging 2.02 service aces each set. Sparty is 2-3 against ranked teams this season. Like I mentioned before though they did push Nebraska to five sets in a match at home; Michigan State can compete with anyone.

Key Players

Jr. OH 2 Autumn Bailey- 3.3 K/S (11), 2.47 D/S, 0.35 SA/S (5)

Sr. OH 11 Chloe Reinig- 2.81 K/S, .81 B/S

Jr. MB 17 Alyssa Garvelink- 2.42 K/S, .380 (40, 6), 1.23 B/S (6)

Jr. OH 18 Holly Toliver- 2.07 D/S, 0.39 SA/S (3)

Sr. MB/Opp 6 Allyssah Fitterer- 2.38 K/S, .453 (4, 2) .6 B/S

Jr. OH/Opp 13 Brooke Kranda- 2.05 K/S, .65 B/S, 0.55 SA/S (8,1)

Jr. S 12 Rachel Minarick- 10.25 A/S (11), 2.02 D/S, 0.34 SA/S (7)

Jr. L 10 Abby Monson- 3.03 D/S (14)

Minnesota will have to pay attention along the net to get a good block up in front of the hitter. If they can put the pressure on the passer that’ll make blocking easier. Similar to the match against Wisconsin passing will be key. We know both teams can get kills, it’s a matter of who can run their offense.

Big Ten Standings

AVCA Rankings

Top 5

  1. Wisconsin
  2. Nebraska
  3. Minnesota
  4. Texas
  5. San Diego

Big Ten teams:

10. Penn State

14. Michigan State

18. Michigan

19. Ohio State

22. Purdue

24. Illinois

RPI Standings

Top 5

  1. Wisconsin
  2. Texas
  3. Nebraska
  4. Minnesota
  5. San Diego

Big Ten Teams in top 40:

8. Purdue

10. Michigan

12. Michigan State

22. Penn State

30. Ohio State