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Minnesota Volleyball: Signing Day and Illinois, Northwestern Preview

Gophers signed six players Wednesday. This weekend the team is in Illinois to take on the Illini and Northwestern.

Coach McCutcheon and staff signed an impressive class Wednesday, adding six players to next year’s roster; Stephanie Samedy, Lauren Barnes, Sara Nielsen, Sydney Kleinman, Alice Zeimann, and Jasmyn Martin.

Samedy, 6’2, is a powerful right side hitter. The Clermont, Florida native is the 5th ranked recruit in the Class of 2017 has experience playing on USA Volleyball’s Youth and Junior National teams. In her senior season at East Ridge High School she averaged 6.2 kills per set (442 total), hit .385 and had 26 blocks, 196 digs, and 38 aces. She was named to the Under Armour All-American First Team.

Lauren Barnes is 5’6 defensive specialist. At Benet Academy she was teammates with fellow Gopher signee, Sara Nielsen. This season she’s passed 486 digs and served 35 aces.

The 5’11 Nielsen was the setter for Benet. This season she’s posted 968 assists, 122 digs, 28 aces, and 26 blocks. Nielsen was ranked 69th in the senior class by and is an Under Armour All-American Honorable Mention.

Texan, Sydney Kleinman is a 6’2 outside hitter. Over her high school career she’s tallied 1736 kills, .274 hitting, 126 blocks, 987 digs, and 164 aces. Kleinman was named to the Under Armour All-American Second Team.

Coach McCutcheon signed Alice Zeimann who hails from his hometown, Christchurch, New Zealand. Zeimann is a 6’0 outside hitter. She has international experience, representing New Zealand in both indoor and beach volleyball competitions and has competed on their Senior Women’s National Team.

Rounding out the class is Minnesota native, Jasmyn Martin. Martin is a standout for Hopkins and Ms. Baden finalist. Martin is ranked 16th in the Class of 2017 and was Second Team Under Armour All-American. This season for Hopkins she’s averaged 6 kills a set and hit .416.

Zeimann and Martin will be joining the team in January for the spring semester.

The six newcomers will replace the six departing seniors.

This weekend #2 Minnesota hits the road for the last time in the regular season. Saturday at 7:00 CT they’ll face Illinois. Sunday evening they take on Northwestern at 7:00 CT.

Six matches left in the regular season, Gophers still have a shot at a conference title. Minnesota will need to take care of business this weekend picking up wins over Illinois and Northwestern.

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

Sr. OH 8 Sarah Wilhite- 4.11 K/S (41, 2), .295, 2.4 D/S

Sr. M 4 Paige Tapp- .273, 1.22 B/S (7)

Sr. M 7 Hannah Tapp- 2.9 K/S (15), .347 (10), 1.11 B/S (13)

So. S 11 Samantha Seliger-Swenson- 11.67 A/S (5, 1), 2.25 D/S, .63 B/S, 0.29 SA/S (12)

Jr. M 13 Molly Lohman- .368 (38, 7), 1.45 B/S (15, 2)

Jr. L 17 Dalianliz Rosado- 3.92 D/S (8)

Fr. OH 19 Alexis Hart- 2.92 K/S (14), .262

Illinois Preview

Illinois (14-11, 7-7) looked strong through the first half of conference play, but has been struggling as of late, dropping their last five matches. Illinois has some tremendous defensive players and is balanced offensively with four hitters averaging over two kills a set. Ali Bastianelli is Illinois’ first line of defense and leads the country with 1.77 blocks per set. As a team Illinois is the second best blocking team in the conference behind the Gophers, 2.92-2.88. What gets past the Illini block is usually picked up by libero Brandi Donnelly who leads the conference with 4.29 digs each set.

The Gophers will have the advantage in the serve receive game and will likely be able to dispatch Illinois in three sets.

Key Players

So. S 1 Jordyn Poulter- 10.61 A/S (49, 6), .98 B/S

Jr. L 3 Brandi Donnelly- 4.29 D/S (1)

Sr. OH 4 Michelle Strizak- 2.81 K/S, 2.05 D/S

So. MB 5 Ali Bastianelli- .340 (11), 1.77 B/S (1, 1)

Fr. OH 7 Jacqueline Quade- 2.79 K/S

Sr. Opp 9 Naya Crittenden- 2.51 K/S, .321, .73 B/S

Sr. MB 12 Katie Stadick- 2.07 K/S, .321, .93 B/S

Northwestern Preview

The match against Northwestern (8-18, 1-13) will likely be another chance for chance for Coach McCutcheon to rest some starters and get some reserves some reps.

Key Players

Jr. S 1 Taylor Tashima- 8.68 A/S (13), 2.03 D/S

Jr. OH 2 Symone Abbott- 3.96 K/S (5)

Jr. MB 8 Gabrielle Hazen- 2.01 K/S, .271, 0.76 B/S

Sr. MB 11 Maddie Slater- .299, .96 B/S

Sr. OH 16 Sofia Lavin- 0.26 SA/S

Rs Fr. DS 17 Kaitlin Tavarez- 2.13 D/S

Big Ten Standings

AVCA Rankings

Top 5

  1. Nebraska
  2. Minnesota
  3. Wisconsin
  4. Kansas
  5. Texas

Big Ten teams:

10. Penn State

15. Michigan State

17. Michigan

Receiving votes- Purdue, Ohio State, Iowa, Illinois

RPI Standings

Top 5

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

Big Ten Teams in top 40:

11. Michigan

15. Michigan State

19. Purdue

22. Penn State

30. Ohio State

NCAA Projection

The NCAA this year released projected top 10 seeds for the tournament. The top 16 seeds host the first and second round matches. This year for the regional semi-finals and finals will be held at the highest ranked seed remaining in the regional. Since this is the case and Minnesota is projected to the be the #2 seed they could host the first four rounds of the tournament at the Pav. The Final Four will be held at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, OH.

Projected Top 10 Seeds

  1. Nebraska
  2. Minnesota
  3. Wisconsin
  4. Texas
  5. San Diego
  6. Kansas
  7. Stanford
  8. North Carolina
  9. Florida
  10. Washington