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Minnesota Volleyball: Nebraska and Wisconsin Preview

Big matches this week, Wednesday night against #1 Nebraska. Then Border Battle and Senior Night against #3 Wisconsin Saturday night.

Minnesota went five sets with Michigan State and Michigan last week and we could see two more five-setters this week. There is plenty still at stake this weekend; conference standings and home court advantage throughout the tournament.

Both matches are sold out, but they will air on BTN. Wednesday night the Huskers will be in town; the match will start at 8:00 CT. Saturday, Minnesota will face Wisconsin at 7:30 CT for Senior Night.

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. M 4 Paige Tapp- .272, 1.15 B/S (11)

Sr. M 7 Hannah Tapp- 2.80 K/S, .340 (11), 1.11 B/S (12)

Sr. OH 8 Sarah Wilhite- 4.13 K/S (38, 2), .293, 2.42 D/S, 0.26 SA/S (14)

So. S 11 Samantha Seliger-Swenson- 11.49 A/S (8, 2), 2.21 D/S, .61 B/S, 0.29 SA/S (11)

Jr. M 13 Molly Lohman- .362 (49, 6), 1.40 B/S (20, 5)

Jr. L 17 Dalianliz Rosado- 3.97 D/S (9)

Fr. OH 19 Alexis Hart- 2.93 K/S (15), .271

Of note, Minnesota is 3-3 in five set matches this season and has not lost at home since the 2014 season.

Six seniors will be honored at match Saturday night; Erica Handley, Katie Schau, Margaret Eggert, Hannah Tapp, Paige Tapp, and Sarah Wilhite.

Nebraska Preview

Nebraska has lost one match since October 24, 2015. More recently, they’ve swept their last five opponents. Minnesota came close to beating them in Lincoln, but fell in five sets. Nebraska is incredibly skilled, they rank in the top five in the conference in all but two team statistical categories. They are 11th in the country in kills (14.41) and blocks per set (2.87), and they’re 3rd and 5th respectively for team (.300) and opponent hitting percentage (.138). All five hitters average 2.0+ kills per set and nearly all of them hit over .250; Andie Malloy hits .247.

Key Players

So. OH 2 Mikaela Foecke- 2.85 K/S, .312

Jr. S 3 Kelly Hunter- 11.29 A/S (14, 3), 2.12 D/S, 0.82 B/S

Sr. L 4 Justine Wong-Orantes- 4.08 D/S (4)

Sr. MB 5 Amber Rolfzen- 2.02 K/S, .350 (9), 1.42 B/S (18, 4)

Sr. OH/Opp 6 Kadie Rolfzen- 3.11 K/S (12), .292, 2.47 D/S, 0.88 B/S

Sr. OH 9 Andie Malloy- 2.63 K/S

Jr. MB 13 Briana Holman- 2.41 K/S, .352 (8), 1.2 B/S (7)

Jr. OH 17 Annika Albrecht- 0.25 SA/S (15)

Minnesota is capable of beating anyone, and they can beat the Huskers, it will just take a great match from everyone. Ball control will be a paramount. Minnesota will need to run a lot through their middles to keep the middle blocker from releasing to the pins. Also so they can run their quick sets to the outside. If Molly Lohman and Paige Tapp have a good night offensively we’ll get the win.

Wisconsin Preview

The Badgers will likely be looking for a little revenge after Minnesota dominated them in their own gym and spoiled their short stay at No. 1 in the AVCA rankings. Wisconsin will use a slightly different lineup from that matchup. After the Gophers dismantled Wisconsin in three sets Coach Sheffield has switched Kelli Bates to libero full time. The new found stability provided by a lineup no longer in flux has helped the Badgers. Romana Kriskova has came on strong in conference play hitting .340, ninth best in conference play. Molly Haggerty was named the B1G Player of the Week after averaging 5.1 kills per set in their two matches last weekend. Lauren Carlini was the conference Setter of the Week after posting 13.7 assists per set and tallying her 16th double-double of the season.

Key Players

Sr. S 1 Lauren Carlini- 11.66 A/S (5, 1), 0.8 B/S, 2.73 D/S (15), 0.31 SA/S (6)

Sr. OH/Opp 2 Romana Kriskova- 2.31 K/S, .282

Jr. OH 3 Lauryn Gillis- 3.04 K/S (13)

Jr. OH 4 Kelli Bates- 4.02 D/S (8)

So. M 11 Tionna Williams- 2.22 K/S, .331 (12), 1.28 B/S (44, 6)

Sr. M 13 Haleigh Nelson- 2.42 K/S, .363 (45, 4), 1.07 B/S (15), 0.3 SA/S (9)

Fr. L 19 M.E. Dodge- 2.28 D/S

Fr. OH 23 Molly Haggerty- 3.44 K/S (7), 2.35 D/S

Wisconsin has great ball control, but if Minnesota can dictate the match from the net like the last time they’ll have no problem. The Badgers are not as skilled of a blocking team and have a propensity to hit into the block.

Big Ten Standings

Minnesota is not out of the conference title race yet, but don’t hold your breath. Nebraska controls their own fate, even if the Huskers would lose to Minnesota they could still win the title outright. If Nebraska loses to Minnesota, but beats Michigan, and Minnesota beats Wisconsin, Nebraska will finish the season with sole possession of the conference title. Even if Minnesota would beat Nebraska and lose to Wisconsin, Nebraska has the edge head-to-head as they won the only match-up between the teams this season. Minnesota’s only chance is if they win both matches this week and Michigan pulls off a miracle in Lincoln, like I said, don’t hold your breath.

AVCA Rankings

Top 5

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

Big Ten teams:

14. Michigan State

15. Penn State

18. Michigan

Receiving votes- Ohio State, Illinois, Purdue

RPI Standings

Top 5

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

Big Ten Teams:

14. Michigan State

17. Michigan

22. Purdue

23. Penn State

38. Ohio State

50. Illinois

55. Indiana

68. Iowa

141. Maryland

146. Northwestern

201. Rutgers

Strength of Schedule

  1. Texas
  2. TCU
  3. Wisconsin
  4. Purdue
  5. Minnesota

Big Ten Teams

7. Michigan

15. Michigan State

18. Rutgers

21. Ohio State

28. Nebraska

29. Indiana

41. Illinois

42. Northwestern

48. Penn State

67. Maryland

91. Iowa

Tournament Outlook

Regardless of how Minnesota does in these last two matches they will likely be in the top four and play at home up until the Final Four. Minnesota is 9-4 against the AVCA Top 25, 11-4 against the current RPI Top 50, and 16-4 against the RPI Top 100.

Vote for the Tapp twins!