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Minnesota Volleyball: Illinois and Northwestern Preview

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For the fourth week in a row, Minnesota will face a top ten opponent, this week its #7 Illinois.

Gophersports.com

The target is squarely on the Gophers’ back as they are the team to beat in the Big Ten now since taking sole possession of first place with their road win over Nebraska last weekend. Minnesota (12-2, 6-0) is back in the Pav this weekend and next. Friday No. 3 Minnesota will face No. 7 Illinois at 7:00 and on Saturday they’ll play Northwestern at 7:00; both matches will be on BTN+

Minnesota has been on a tear to start conference play. They’ve only dropped one set and have the best offense in the Big Ten leading the league with .311 hitting and 15.79 kills per set in Big Ten play. While we’re only six matches in four Gopher hitters have averaged three kills per set coming into this weekend. Minnesota is also playing phenomenal back line defense with 17.79 digs per set. At this point, the Gophers need to just keep doing what they’re doing, spreading the ball around and passing well.

Key Players

class, height, position, # name, stats from conference play, (in the Big Ten)
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

So. 5’6 DS 2 Lauren Barnes- 3.47 D/S (13), 0.42 SA/S (4)

Fr. 5’9 L 7 CC McGraw- 3.63 D/S (10)

So. 6’2 RS 10 Stephanie Samedy- 3.63 K/S (8), .340 (6), 2.89 D/S, 0.84 B/S, 0.26 SA/S

Jr. 6’0 MB 12 Taylor Morgan- 3.0 K/S, .485 (1), 0.95 B/S (33, 7)

Sr. 5’11 S 13 Samantha Seliger-Swenson- 11.63 A/S (2), 3.42 D/S (14), 0.37 SA/S (7)

Jr. 6’0 OH 19 Alexis Hart- 3.05 K/S (15), .306 (13)

Fr. 6’0 OH 20 Adanna Rollins- 3.58 K/S (10), 2.95 D/S

So. 6’5 MB 21 Regan Pittman- 1.05 B/S (11)

Illinois

Illinois (15-2, 4-2) came into conference play with a perfect record and have since been knocked around by the class of the Big Ten. The Illini lost consecutive home matches in four sets to then No. 3 Nebraska and No. 6 Wisconsin. Illinois has struggled at times with ball control and they rely heavily on outside hitter Jacqueline Quade, at times too much becoming very easy to defend against. If Illinois gets opposite hitter Megan Cooney involved they’ll have a chance otherwise they don’t have enough offensive firepower to compete with the Gophers.

Key Players

Sr. 6’2 S 1 Jordyn Poulter- 11.39 A/S (4), .79 B/S, 2.96 D/S, 0.26 SA/S

Fr. 5’8 DS 3 Taylor Kuper-

Sr. 6’3 MB 5 Ali Bastianelli- 2.48 K/S .339 (7), 1.22 B/S (4), 0.35 SA/S (8)

Jr. 6’2 OH 7 Jacqueline Quade*- 3.87 K/S (4), 2.39 D/S, 0.3 SA/S (15)

Jr. 6’3 OH 8 Beth Prince*- 3.09 K/S (14)

Jr. 6’4 MB 12 Ashlyn Fleming- .436

So. 6’4 OH/RS 15 Megan Cooney- 2.48 K/S

So. 5’8 L 16 Morgan O’Brien- 3.52 D/S (12), 0.35 SA/S (8)

Jr. 5’8 DS 21 Caroline Welsh- 2.09 D/S

* Coach Hugh McCutcheon is well acquainted with the Illini staff. Head Coach Chris Tamas was with the US Men’s national team in the Olympic cycle leading up to the Beijing Games and Tamas was an assistant here at the U for two years during Hugh’s transition from Olympic Head Coach to the U. Tamas’ wife Jen, Illinois’ volunteer assistant coach, played for Hugh in the leadup to the 2012 London Games. Assistant, Alfred Reft also played for Hugh on the Men’s National Team and was assistant here at the U alongside Tamas.

Northwestern

Northwestern (10-8, 0-6) is still searching for its first conference win. The Wildcats struggle mightily, offensively hitting a league-worst .136 in conference play.

Key Players

Fr. 5’7 DS 1 Michelle Lee- 3.0 D/S

So. 6’1 S 11 Britt Bommer- 8.23 A/S (13)

Jr. 6’0 MB 13 Olivia Viscuso- .412, 0.82 B/S

Fr. 6’3 OH/RS 16 Ella Grbac- 2.42 K/S

So. 6’2 OH 18 Nia Robinson- 4.0 K/S (2)

Big Ten Standings

The Gophers are alone at the top.

AVCA Rankings

  1. BYU (60)
  2. Stanford (4)
  3. Minnesota
  4. Texas
  5. Nebraska

7. Illinois

8. Wisconsin

9. Penn State

13. Michigan

17. Purdue

RV: Iowa

After the road win, the Gophers flip-flopped with Nebraska. Wisconsin only dropped two spots after falling to Iowa in five on the road. Michigan rose to No. 13 from No. 16 after a commanding sweep over then No. 14 Purdue. Oregon is right back in the top 15, No. 14, after sweeping then No. 17 UCLA and No. 12 USC on the road; both UCLA and USC fell three spots this week. BYU and Pittsburgh are still perfect. The Big Ten Trails the Pac-12 8-7 in teams in the Top 25.

You can expect to see some turnover in the Top 5 next week as Texas lost to Kansas last night.

RPI Standings

  1. Stanford
  2. BYU
  3. Illinois
  4. Pittsburgh
  5. Texas

7. Michigan

8.Wisconsin

9. Nebraska

10. Minnesota

15. Purdue

17. Penn State

39. Iowa

45. Ohio State

49. Indiana

60. Michigan State

69. Maryland

72. Northwestern

193. Rutgers