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Minnesota Volleyball: Iowa and Nebraska Preview

The Gophers are at the Pav again this weekend as they look to sweep the season series with reigning National Champion Nebraska.

Gophersports.com

Minnesota (14-2, 8-0) is sitting comfortably atop the Big Ten currently; they have a two-game advantage over the rest of the league as we approach the half-way point. Their perfect conference record is on the line as they welcome Iowa and No. 5 Nebraska to Maturi Pavilion.

Friday at 7:00 they’ll face Iowa; the match will air on BTN+. The rematch with Nebraska is Saturday at 7:00 on BTN. Both matches are sold out.

Northwestern Recap

The Gophers had little trouble dispatching the Wildcats in a quick three-set win 25-12, 25-22, 25-19. Minnesota outhit Northwestern .345-.105 and similarly dominated the net with 12 blocks compared to the Wildcats three.

Adanna Rollins and Regan Pittman paced the Gophers with 11 kills each; Pittman hit .500. Stephanie Samedy had a double-double with 10 kills and digs while hitting .417. Taylor Morgan and Samedy both finished with six blocks followed closely by Pittman’s five. Samantha Seliger-Swenson put up 40 assists as she crossed the 5,000 assist plateau becoming the fifth Gopher to do so. CC McGraw led the passers with 16 digs and Lauren Barnes had 11.

Weekend Preview

Minnesota has been cruising since the trip to California. Seliger-Swenson has been masterful quarterbacking the offense to a league-best .310 hitting efficiency in conference play. She’s done it by spreading the ball around to her very capable hitters. This is all made possible by Minnesota’s passers; the Gophers have surrendered the least aces in conference play. They also play phenomenal defense giving Minnesota great opportunities to score in transition leading the Big Ten with 17.56 digs per set. As an example, Lauren Barnes, who only plays three rotations, has higher digs per set numbers than some of the conference’s liberos. Right now the only question surrounding Minnesota is how long can they keep playing at this level.

Key Players

class, height, position, # name, stats, (in the Big Ten) **stats from conference play**
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- 3.36 D/S (12), 0.32 SA/S (12)

Fr. 5’9 L 7 CC McGraw- 3.96 D/S (8)

So. 6’2 RS 10 Stephanie Samedy- 3.56 K/S (8), .342 (6), 2.92 D/S, 0.96 B/S

Jr. 6’0 MB 12 Taylor Morgan- 2.88 K/S, .447 (1), 1.08 B/S (8)

Sr. 5’11 S 13 Samantha Seliger-Swenson- 12.08 A/S (1), 2.88 D/S, 0.44 SA/S (2)

Jr. 6’0 OH 19 Alexis Hart- 3.16 K/S (14), .310 (14)

Fr. 6’0 OH 20 Adanna Rollins- 3.28 K/S (12), 2.76 D/S

So. 6’5 MB 21 Regan Pittman- 2.0 K/S, .311 (13), 1.08 B/S (8)

Iowa

Iowa (12-7, 4-4) already has one win over a Top 10 team, then No. 6 Wisconsin and they’re looking to pick up a couple more this weekend. The Hawkeyes have two great pin hitters and not much else. They play hard but they’re easy to defend and they don’t serve very tough. Unless they get an offensive outburst from someone not named Cali Hoye or Taylor Louis they won’t likely be able to pull off the upset.

Key Players

Sr. 5’4 L 1 Molly Kelly- 4.63 D/S (4)

So. 5’10 S 7 Brie Orr*- 9.88 A/S (8), 2.28 D/S

Fr. 6’2 MB 9 Amiya Jones- .330, 0.81 B/S

Jr. 6’1 OH 14 Cali Hoye- 3.75 K/S (7), 2.09 D/S, 0.31 SA/S (13)

Sr. 6’3 OH 16 Taylor Louis- 3.5 K/S (10)

*Orr is one of two Minnesota natives on the Hawkeye team. Orr hails from Eagan, and Halle Johnston from Lakeville.

Nebraska

While it would be nice to only face the Huskers once this season, volleyball fans will get a treat Saturday night as the Gophers and Huskers square off again for the second time this season. Nebraska (15-3, 6-2) has been the only team to take a set off the Gophers in conference play. The Huskers come to town as the leading blocking and serving team in the conference with 3.03 blocks per set and 1.71 service aces per set. They also hold their opponents to a conference-best .146 hitting percentage.

This match will come down to transition offense and out of system balls. Seliger-Swenson has been great running the Gophers quick offense off a dig even when she’s pulled 10, 15 feet off the net. Her hitters have also been smart hitting seams and high hands. If Minnesota can use the Husker block to their advantage and cover well otherwise they should be in good shape.

Key Players

Fr. 5’10 S 1 Nicklin Hames- 10.61 A/S (7), 3.35 D/S (13), 0.32 SA/S (9)

Sr. 6’3 OH 2 Mikaela Foecke- 3.77 K/S (6), .311 (12), 2.58 D/S, 0.26 SA/S

So. 6’2 OH 10 Lexi Sun- 3.29 K/S (11), 2.71 D/S, 0.29 SA/S

Sr. 5’8 L 11 Kenzie Maloney- 3.84 D/S (9), 0.42 SA/S (4)

So. 6’3 RS 12 Jazz Sweet- 2.81 K/S, 1.03 B/S (10)

Fr. 6’5 MB 25 Callie Schwarzenbach- 1.68 B/S (1)

So. 6’4 MB 26 Lauren Stivrins- .391 (3), 1.16 B/S (6), 0.26 SA/S

*Hugh coached Husker assistant Kayla Banwarth in the lead up to the 2012 London Olympics.

Big Ten Honors

Seliger-Swenson has the Big Ten’s Setter of the Week again, the fourth week in a row. She averaged 13.5 assists in the two matches and the Gophers hit .307 under her direction, not to mention four aces.

CC McGraw split Freshman of the Week honors with Penn State’s Jonni Parker after averaging 5 digs per set last weekend.

Big Ten Standings

After dropping their first two conference matches Penn State has rattled off seven wins in a row including a five-set win over Nebraska last Saturday. The Gophers now have some extra breathing room as result. Michigan has snuck into third due to their schedule. So far the Wolverines have only played two matches against the Big Ten teams in the AVCA Top 10 dropping both matches.

AVCA Rankings Week 8

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

7. Illinois

9. Wisconsin

13. Michigan

17. Purdue

RV: Iowa

Texas fell out of the Top Five after falling to Kansas in four on the road. Penn State broke into the Top Five with their win over Nebraska who didn’t move from No. 5. No. 1 BYU and No. 6 Pittsburgh are still undefeated.

RPI Standings

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

7. Minnesota

9. Wisconsin

10. Michigan

11. Penn State

12. Nebraska

16. Purdue

37. Ohio State

44. Iowa

54. Indiana

62. Michigan State

69. Maryland

75. Northwestern

202. Rutgers