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Minnesota Volleyball: Northwestern and Nebraska Preview

After sweeping two Top Five Big Ten teams, #4 Penn State and #5 Wisconsin, the Gophers will look to repeat the feat on the road against #3 Nebraska this weekend.

Gopher Athletics

Before the Gophers face-off against Nebraska they’ll first take on Northwestern Wednesday night. After the sweep over the Badgers, Minnesota (10-2, 4-0) picked up another win against Indiana in Bloomington last weekend.

Minnesota’s offense has been on a roll and IU had no success slowing them down; The Gophers got the sweep 25-21, 25-19, 25-14. Minnesota outhit the Hoosiers .356-.188. The Gophers hot serving continued as they got three aces from Lauren Barnes and one from Samantha Seliger-Swenson; the Gophers didn’t surrender an ace either.

Taylor Morgan was electric tallying 12 kills on 13 swings with no errors. Her .923 hitting percentage is a Minnesota match record. Morgan was just one of four hitters with double figure kills who all hit over .300; Adanna Rollins had 12, Stephanie Samedy put away 11, and Alexis Hart posted 10. Samedy was the leading blocker with three. Seliger-Swenson had a double-double with 36 assists and team best 13 digs.

Both of the Gophers matches this week will be on BTN+. Wednesday night they’ll take on Northwestern at 7:00. The showdown with Nebraska will be Saturday at 7:00 in Lincoln.

Saturday’s match will be a showdown of the conference’s top offense, Minnesota, versus the conference’s best defense, Nebraska. The Gophers boast the Big Ten’s top hitting percentage, .300 while the Husker’s hold their opponents to the lowest mark in the country, .112. For Nebraska their defense starts at the service line where they are able to force team’s out of system on the first ball; the Huskers are second in the Big Ten with 1.86 service aces per set.

Fortunately for the Gophers their offense is humming. All five hitters can score and lately they’ve got a lot of production from Hart, Samedy, Rollins and Morgan. Being able to spread the ball around will be key to hold the Husker middle blockers. Defensively, the Gophers aren’t slouches as Minnesota has the second best dig numbers in the conference.

Key Players

class, height, position, # name , stats, (statistical rank nationally, 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- 2.26 D/S, 0.31 SA/S

Fr. 5’9 L 7 CC McGraw- 3.72 D/S (12)

So. 6’2 RS 10 Stephanie Samedy- 3.97 K/S (6), .285, 2.54 D/S, 1.0 B/S

Jr. 6’0 MB 12 Taylor Morgan- 2.37 K/S, .406 (15, 3), 1.31 B/S (33, 7)

Sr. 5’11 S 13 Samantha Seliger-Swenson- 11.26 A/S (18, 4), 2.92 D/S, 0.28 SA/S

Jr. 6’0 OH 19 Alexis Hart- 2.9 K/S, .247

Fr. 6’0 OH 20 Adanna Rollins- 2.31 K/S, .276, 2.69 D/S

So. 6’5 MB 21 Regan Pittman- 2.26 K/S, .344 (13), 1.11 B/S (14)

Northwestern

The Wildcats (10-6, 0-4) are a young team with only one junior seeing regular action and no seniors even on the roster. The team is battling but they haven’t been able to notch a conference win yet falling to Indiana, Purdue, Nebraska, and Iowa; Nebraska was the only three set loss. The Wildcats are error prone and have the lowest hitting percentage in the conference, .205.

Key Players

Fr. 5’7 DS 1 Michelle Lee- 3.46 D/S (13), 0.28 SA/S

Fr. 6’2 OH 2 Abryanna Cannon- 3.45 K/S, 0.85 B/S

Jr. 5’7 DS 9 Sarah Johnson- 3.3 D/S (15), 0.33 SA/S (15)

So. 6’1 S 11 Britt Bommer- 8.3 A/S (12)

So. 6’2 OH 18 Nia Robinson- 4.23 K/S (30, 2), .241

So. 6’3 MB 20 Alana Walker- 2.03 K/S, .279, 1.1 B/S (15)

Nebraska

Nebraska (13-1, 4-0) dropped their first match of the season to Florida and have since been on a 13 match win streak. The reigning National Champs were able to reload this season bringing in top recruits and a transfer to round out their roster. Freshman setter Nicklin Hames and middle blocker Callie Schwarzenbach were both top ten recruits and they added the services of All-Big 12 performer Lexi Sun who joins the team from Texas. Sun though wasn’t in the lineup til the last week of preseason missing matches against other ranked teams. Since the opener against Florida, the closest Nebraska came to losing was a five-setter against Creighton.

Nebraska does so many things well but this match will come down to the middle blockers. Who will have the blocking advantage and who can score points out of the middle. While all four middle blockers post respectable numbers none are quite dominant offensively and of course they are all at the mercy of the passing game, whether they can even get set. Whichever team can establish their middles in the early going will have the advantage.

Key Players

5’10 S 1 Nicklin Hames- 9.94 A/S (9), 2.94 D/S, 0.42 SA/S (3)

Sr. 6’3 OH 2 Mikaela Foecke- 3.58 K/S (9), .328 (15), 2.46 D/S, 0.48 SA/S (30, 2)

So. 6’2 OH 10 Lexi Sun- 3.09 K/S, 2.27 D/S

Sr. 5’8 L 11 Kenzie Maloney- 3.86 D/S (10), 0.28 SA/S

So. 6’3 RS 12 Jazz Sweet- 2.64 K/S, .293, 0.92 B/S

Fr. 6’5 MB 25 Callie Schwarzenbach- .331, 1.66 B/S (2, 1)

So. 6’4 MB 26 Lauren Stivrins- 2.14 K/S, .398 (20, 4), 1.06 B/S, 0.28 SA/S

There may have been a little gamesmanship by Hugh and the staff coming into this match by refusing to move Saturday’s match up at Nebraska’s request. Nebraska wanted to move it up so it wouldn’t conflict with the Nebraska-Wisconsin football game being played at the same time. Seems to me though Minnesota is simply to trying to save Nebraska fans from themselves and give them a legitimate reason to not watch the 0-4 Huskers play the Badgers.

Big Ten Honors

Alexis Hart split Big Ten Player of the Week honor with Nebraska’s Lauren Stivrins this week. She followed up her error-less 14 kill performance against Wisconsin with 10 kills and .318 hitting against IU.

Samantha Seliger-Swenson was named the Setter of the Week for the second week in a row after leading Minnesota’s balanced attack to two wins. She piloted the Gophers to .386 hitting against Wisconsin putting up 39 assists to go with two aces. Against Indiana she led the team with 13 digs which put her past the 1000 dig plateau; The Gophers hit .356 as Seliger-Swenson tallied 36 assists.

Big Ten Standings

AVCA Rankings

  1. BYU (60)
  2. Stanford (4)
  3. Nebraska
  4. Texas
  5. Minnesota
  6. Wisconsin
  7. Illinois
  8. Pittsburgh
  9. Penn State
  10. Creighton

14. Purdue

16. Michigan

Minnesota flip flopped with with Wisconsin after the win Wednesday night last week. The major move this week was Oregon falling from No. 12 to No. 20 after losing to Arizona and Arizona State.

BYU and Pitt are the last unbeatens standing after Illinois dropped a four-setter to Nebraska.

RPI Standings

The first RPI Standings were released this week.

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

8. Nebraska

9. Wisconsin

11. Michigan

12. Purdue

15. Minnesota

22. Penn State

38. Ohio State

44. Indiana

49. Iowa

57. Maryland

67. Michigan State

68. Northwestern

178. Rutgers