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Minnesota Volleyball Preview: Purdue and Iowa

After taking some early hits in Big Ten play No. 6 Minnesota seems to be back on track sitting at 4-2 in the conference. Gophers host No. 16 Purdue and Iowa this week.

Last time we checked in with the team on the blog they were 2-2 going into road games with Wisconsin and Michigan. The Gophers (15-2, 4-2) added another signature road win taking down the No. 7 Badgers in five sets. Minnesota got down two sets to one then blitzed Wisconsin with an offensive onslaught hitting over .400 in the last two sets. Alexis Hart and Jasmyn Martin were brilliant for Minnesota tallying career-high kills, 24 and 17 respectively. The Gophers then picked up a sweep over No. 22 Michigan as the Wolverines struggled to get any production from their pin hitters. Minnesota picked up where they left off from the Wisconsin matching hitting .354 against the Wolverines.

This week Minnesota faces a hard hitting Purdue team and the Hawkeyes. Both matches will air on BTN. Wednesday evening Minnesota will square off against the Boilermakers at 6:00 CT. Sunday at 4:00 CT the Gophers will face Iowa.

Minnesota looks to have rebounded nicely from the back-to-back losses. One reason they’ve been able to pick up wins has been the play of Jasmyn Martin. Martin seems to have dramatically improved her shot selection and execution over their last few weeks. It took her a set or so to figure out how to hit around 6’8 Dana Rettke but once she did Wisconsin couldn’t stop her. Production from Martin has been vital in conference play as Stephanie Samedy has been pedestrian in conference play compared to her numbers in non-conference play. Alexis Hart also has been phenomenal carrying the offense while Samedy and Martin endure their own struggles.

Key Players

class, height, position, # name , stats, (statistical rank nationally, in conference)
Positions: MB- middle blocker, OH- outside hitter, RS- right side 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. 6’3 OH 1 Jasmyn Martin- 2.27 K/S, .229

Fr. 6’2 RS 10 Stephanie Samedy- 4.07 K/S (45, 3), .309, 2.8 D/S (14), 0.86 B/S

Jr. 5’11 S 11 Samantha Seliger-Swenson- 12.19 A/S (3, 1), 2.41 D/S, 0.29 SA/S

Sr. 6’3 MB 13 Molly Lohman- .385 (41, 7), 1.51 B/S (15, 4), 0.25 SA/S

Sr. 5’9 L 17 Dalianliz Rosado- 4.51 D/S (3)

So. 6’0 OH 19 Alexis Hart- 3.49 K/S (8), .265

Rs Fr. 6’5 MB 21 Regan Pittman- 2.22 K/S, .375 (9), 1.1 B/S (8)

Purdue Preview

The Boilermakers (15-2) come to town with a 5-1 conference record having played a soft schedule thus far in Big Ten play. In non-conference play they went 1-1 against top 10 teams. Purdue boasts one of the conferences best offenses, 14.75 kills per set, best in the Big Ten and fifth in the country, and .349 hitting percentage second only to Penn State. What makes this even more impressive is the meager production they get from their middle blockers; both are fairly efficient but setter Ashley Evans has a higher kills per set average than Shavona Cuttino. The height of two of Purdue’s pin hitters is where a lot of their advantage comes from. Atkinson and D.Cuttino can just hit over the block and they don’t need to be in system or run a fast offense to get their kills. That doesn't mean Purdue doesn't still have ball control issues, they do it's just easier for them to overcome it. If the Gophers can serve tough, pressure the passers, and slow down Atkinson and D.Cuttino just a little they should be fine.

Key Players

Jr. 5’9 L 3 Brooke Peters- 3.77 D/S (8)

Sr. 6’1 S 5 Ashley Evans- 11.68 A/S (9, 2), 0.36 SA/S (7)

So. 6’2 MB 9 Shavona Cuttino- 1.02 B/S (15)

Sr. 6’0 OH 10 Azariah Stahl- 2.55 K/S, .280, 2.41 D/S, 0.3 SA/S (15)

Jr. 6’5 OH/RS 16 Sherridan Atkinson- 3.4 K/S (9), .356 (13), 0.69 B/S

So. 6’2 M 17 Blake Mohler- 2.14 K/S .360 (11), 0.93 B/S

Sr. 6’4 OH 20 Danielle Cuttino- 4.24 K/S (30, 2), .373 (10), 0.73 B/S

Iowa Preview

The Hawkeyes (13-6, 2-4) are not as good as they were last year when they pushed Minnesota to five sets and the Gophers have already won the first matchup between the teams this season in three sets. Iowa couldn’t slow down Minnesota and struggled to run their own offense; Sunday will likely be more of the same.

Fr. 5’10 S 7 Brie Orr*- 11.32 A/S (18, 6), 2.0 D/S

Jr. 6’0 RS 8 Reghan Coyle- 2.05 K/S, .299

Sr. 5’8 L 9 Annika Olsen- 4.48 D/S (4)

Fr. 6’1 OH 10 Claire Sheehan*- 2.67 K/S ***.146, 2.17 D/S

Sr. 6’1 MB 11 Kelsey O’Neill- .321, 0.87 B/S

Jr. 6’3 OH 16 Taylor Louis- 3.58 K/S (5). .287

Sr. 6’3 MB 29 Jess Janota- 2.35 K/S, .301, 0.92 B/S

* Minnesota Natives: Orr- Eagan, Sheehan- Isanti, Freshman Halle Johnston- Lakeville

Big Ten Honors

Three Gophers were selected for conference honors; Samantha Seliger-Swenson- Setter of the Week, Molly Lohman- Defensive Player of the Week, and Jasmyn Martin- Freshman of the Week.

Big Ten Standings

AVCA Rankings

  1. Florida (61)
  2. Penn State (1)
  3. Stanford (2)
  4. Nebraska
  5. Texas

(First-Place Votes)

Rest of Big Ten: #6 Minnesota, #10 Michigan State, #11 Wisconsin, #16 Purdue, RV Michigan, and RV Illinois

RPI Rankings

The first RPI rankings of the season were released last week, making this week the second set.

  1. Penn State
  2. Florida
  3. Kentucky
  4. Minnesota
  5. Nebraska
  6. Texas
  7. Stanford
  8. Oregon
  9. Utah
  10. Washington

Rest of the Big Ten: #11 Wisconsin, #13 Purdue, #15 Michigan State,#22 Illinois, #29 Ohio State, #36 Michigan, #39 Maryland, #47 Iowa, #48 Northwestern, #76 Indiana, and #231 Rutgers

Based on the latest RPI standings Minnesota is 8-2 against the RPI top 50.