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Minnesota Volleyball Rises to No. 1 Ahead of Showdown with Texas

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Big weekend ahead for the newly minted No. 1 Gophers as they take on No. 5 Texas in Austin. Gophers took care of business at home last weekend sweeping all three opponents.

Gophersports.com

Minnesota successfully defended home court last weekend as they continued their climb in the polls. This week as the new No. 1 they’ll face preseason No. 1 Texas. The Longhorns are still figuring out their lineup as they look to break through and win their third national title after back-to-back losses in the national title game the last two seasons. Minnesota and Texas are fairly familiar with each other although both teams look much different than when they met in the 2015 Final Four.

Diet Coke Classic Recap

The Gophers won the Diet Coke Classic last weekend sweeping West Virginia, the University of Texas at San Antonio and Tennessee.

Friday evening Minnesota had little trouble dispatching West Virginia 25-17, 25-18, 25-22. The Gopher offense was efficient, .324, while the team kept the Mountaineers from having much success, .160 hitting. Stephanie Samedy led Minnesota with 15 kills. Molly Lohman hit .700 putting away eight kills to go with four blocks. Samantha Seliger-Swenson put up 41 assists and Dalianliz Rosado led with 13 digs.

The UTSA Roadrunners were no match for Minnesota Saturday morning as the Gophers won 25-12, 25-17, 25-14. Minnesota outperformed UTSA in every statistical category. Eleven different players saw the floor for the Gophers over the course of the match. Samedy again led Minnesota with 11 kills and 11 digs.

Against Tennessee the Gopher offense was rolling hitting at a .396 clip; great ball control kept the Gophers in system. Minnesota won 25-22, 25-15, 25-20. Samedy was the kill leader with 17, hitting .371. Regan Pittman was equally impressive amassing 15 kills, hitting .684 to go with five blocks. Seliger-Swenson put up 49 assists.

Big Ten Honors

Samantha Seliger-Swenson was named Big Ten Setter of the Week after her performance during the Diet Coke Classic. On the weekend she averaged 14 assists per set to go with the 15 digs, four blocks, and two aces she accumulated over the three matches; with her running the offense the team hit .368.

American Campus Classic Preview

Minnesota faces their toughest test of the non-conference season as they head to Austin, Texas. The match with Texas could tell us a lot about how serious of a contender Minnesota is. Before the Gophers square off against the Longhorns they’ll take on Denver and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

All matches will air on the Longhorn Network. The Gophers first match is against Denver Thursday morning at 10:00. They’ll play a second match Thursday at 5:00 against A&M-Corpus Christi. Friday at 8:00 they’ll square off against Texas.

Minnesota

The Gophers have had a great start to their season. Stephanie Samedy has came on strong and is more than capable. Regan Pittman also has been effective eclipsing Lohman’s numbers. Between Samedy and Pittman the loss of the Tapp twins has been diminished. At the left pin however the loss of Sarah Wilhite is still felt. The play of Alexis Hart and Jasmyn Martin will be important against Texas.

Key Players

class, height, position, # name , stats, (statistical rank nationally)
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- 2.0 K/S, 0.77 B/S

Fr. 5’6 DS 2 Lauren Barnes- 2.0 D/S, 0.25 SA/S

Fr. 6’2 RS 10 Stephanie Samedy- 4.62 K/S (19), 3.44 D/S, 0.62 B/S

Jr. 5’11 S 11 Samantha Seliger-Swenson- 12.75 A/S (4), 0.38 SA/S

Sr. 6’3 MB 13 Molly Lohman- .500, 1.06 B/S, 0.25 SA/S

Sr. 5’9 L 17 Dalianliz Rosado- 4.12 D/S

So. 6’0 OH 19 Alexis Hart- 2.88 K/S

Rs Fr. 6’5 MB 21 Regan Pittman- 2.81 K/S, .447 (25), 1.25 B/S

Denver Preview

The Pioneers come into the weekend with an unblemished 6-0 record although they haven’t played anyone of note. Denver was tabbed to win the Summit League this year after tying with South Dakota atop the league last season. The Pioneers made it to the NCAA Tournament last year where they lost in the first round to eventual champion Stanford. To win the Summit League and get the conference’s auto-bid to the NCAA Tourney they’ll have to do it with a mostly new roster as four starters departed last season’s squad. So far the eight newcomers have transitioned well.

Key Players

Sr. 6’2 OH 2 Cassie Baird- 2.8 K/S, .327, 2.67 D/S, 0.27 SA/S

Sr. 5’4 L 4 Cassidy Rooke- 3.94 D/S

Fr. 5’8 S 6 Ellie Anderson- 5.06 A/S, 0.31 SA/S

Jr. 6’4 OH 8 Becca Latham- 3.29 K/S, .323, 0.81 B/S

Fr. 5’10 OH 10 Lydia Bartalo- 2.79 D/S

Sr. 5’11 S 11 Piyusha Botegu- 6.19 A/S, 3.00 D/S

Fr. 6’0 MB 13 Tina Boe*- .271, 1.21 B/S

Sr. 6’3 RS 14 Kayla Principato- 3.24 K/S, .309, 0.67 B/S

Jr. 6’3 MB 15 Emma Willis- .276, 1.33 B/S

Sr. 6’2 MB/RS 19 Teal Schnurr- .256

*Boe is from Plymouth, Minnesota; she went to Osseo High School.

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Preview

Corpus Christi is a program on the rise; they’ve ruled the Southland Conference, winning the regular season and tournament titles the last two seasons. This year they’ll look to do it without two starters from last years squad. They do return the Southland Player of the Year Brittany Gilpin however. So far the season the Islanders are 3-4 including a three set loss to then No. 23 Michigan State.

Key Players

Jr. 5’5 DS 1 Madison Woods- 3.68 D/S, 0.32 SA/S

Sr. 5’10 OH 2 Brittany Gilpin-3.16 K/S, 2.84 D/S

So. 5’8 S 3 Madison Green- 0.35 SA/S

Fr. 5’7 DS 4 Camryn Tucker- 2.0 D/S

Sr. 6’1 MB 5 Madeleine Doud- 0.74 B/S

Fr. 6’4 MB 6 Chloe Thorpe*- .286

Fr. 6’1 OH 7 Chloe Simon- 2.5 K/S, .333

Fr. 6’1 MB 8 Rachel Young- .288

Jr. 6’1 MB 9 Morgan Williams- 0.6 B/S

Sr. 6’0 S 14 Kristyn Nicholson- 8.4 A/S, 0.28 SA/S

*Thorpe is from Woodbury where she attended East Ridge High School

Texas Preview

Texas (4-1) was the preseason favorite to win the National Title, while they still are a contender they don’t look quite as good as expected. Florida beat the Longhorns in Gainesville, and Texas had to go four sets to beat Oregon and San Diego. The Longhorns are breaking in a new setter, freshman Ashley Shook, since Chloe Collins has graduated. Shook and fellow freshman starter Lexi Sun are part of a four member class that is tabbed as the top recruiting class for 2016. With the new setter the Longhorns are trying find the right balance and pieces to use in their powerful offense. While they are still ironing things out along the net offensively they’re doing great defensively posting 3.72 blocks per set, second best in the country.

This match will likely come down to who’s pin hitters are more effective. Samedy is great at the right pin but it remains to be seen if Minnesota can best Texas at the left pin. It also will be important to pressure the Texas passers; the less they can feed Chiaka Ogbogu the better.

Key Players

So. 6’1 OH 1 Micaya White- 2.5 K/S, 1.0 B/S

Sr. 6’4 OH 2 Ebony Nwanebu- 2.27 K/S, .373, 1.45 B/S

Sr. 5’7 L 8 Cat McCoy- 3.82 D/S

Fr. 6’1 S 9 Ashley Shook- 8.89 A/S, 2.06 D/S

Fr. 6’2 OH 11 Lexi Sun- 3.11 K/S, 2.06 D/S, 0.83 B/S

Jr. 6’3 MB 12 Morgan Johnson- .325, 1.81 B/S (4)

So. 5’5 DS 13 Autumn Rounsaville- 2.5 D/S

Sr. 6’2 MB 21 Chiaka Ogbogu- 2.22 K/S, .400, 1.78 B/S (7), 0.28 SA/S

Jr. 6’4 OH 27 Yaazie Bedart-ghani- .333

AVCA Rankings

Penn State knocked off Stanford opening the door for Minnesota to assume the top spot in this week’s rankings.

  1. Minnesota (29)
  2. Florida (21)
  3. Penn State (12)
  4. Stanford (1)
  5. Texas (1)

(First-place votes)

Next week’s rankings will likely look the same at the top, just shaken up. Florida has the most to gain this weekend and are the only top five team not playing another top five opponent. They aren’t completely in the clear though as they will face #21 Michigan State. Penn State and Stanford will square off again this time at Illinois in the Big 10-Pac-12 Challenge.

The Gophers’ sweep over North Carolina looks less and less impressive as the Tar Heels have yet to win a match thus falling out of the Top 25.

Ranked Big Ten Teams are as follows; #6 Wisconsin, #12 Nebraska, #16 Michigan, #17 Purdue, #21 Michigan State, and #24 Ohio State.

Minnesota held the #1 spot twice last season. Until last season the Gophers had not been ranked #1 since 2004.