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Minnesota Volleyball Preview: Wisconsin and Michigan State

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Gophers are in Madison Wednesday before coming home this weekend to kick off their last homestand of the season.

Jon Johnston

Minnesota (18-2, 12-0) is sitting comfortably atop the Big Ten and has plenty of breathing room as the rest of the top teams have taken turns knocking off each other. The No. 3 Gophers will only face two of the other four Big Ten teams ranked in the Top 10 down the homestretch. Wednesday night against No. 5 Wisconsin is one of those matchups. Minnesota will take on the Badgers Wednesday night in Madison at 8:00 on BTN. Saturday at 7:00 they’ll faceoff against Michigan State on BTN.

Minnesota has been workmanlike as they’ve picked up one conference win after another. They’ve been proficient in every phase of the game. More often than not Samantha Seliger-Swenson gets a good pass to set, and when she doesn’t she still puts up a great ball allowing Minnesota to stay in system in transition. She also mixes it up so well holding the middle blocker giving her pin hitters one-on-one matchups. All five of Minnesota’s hitters can score so even when one has a bad night there is no drop-off.

Key Players

class, height, position, # name, stats, (statistical rank 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- 3.16 D/S (15), 0.37 SA/S (4)

Fr. 5’9 L 7 CC McGraw- 4.39 D/S (6)

So. 6’2 RS 10 Stephanie Samedy- 3.53 K/S (9), .313 (10), 2.84 D/S, 0.82 B/S

Jr. 6’0 MB 12 Taylor Morgan- 2.84 K/S, .403 (2), 1.11 B/S (6)

Sr. 5’11 S 13 Samantha Seliger-Swenson- 12.37 A/S (1), 2.89 D/S, 0.45 SA/S (1)

Jr. 6’0 OH 19 Alexis Hart- 3.29 K/S (12), .295 (12)

Fr. 6’0 OH 20 Adanna Rollins- 3.0 K/S (11), 2.79 D/S

So. 6’5 MB 21 Regan Pittman- 2.26 K/S, .370 (6), 1.16 B/S (5)

Wisconsin

Wisconsin (16-4, 9-3) boasts one of the best players in the country, Dana Rettke. Unfortunately for the Badgers, the two of the most important members of the supporting cast, outside hitters Molly Haggerty and Grace Loberg, have been holding them back. Together the duo has hit .160 in conference play.

Teams can survive when one outside hitter struggles but when both do teams are sunk. Coach Sheffield has experimented shifting Madison Duello to the left pin but it’s not a cure-all as he has to put someone else at the right pin and no one off the bench has been able to provide a lift. Wisconsin has great pieces; Rettke, Duello, setter Sidney Hilley, and libero Tiffany Clark, but until they get consistent production from the left pin it seems unlikely they’ll make a deep run this year. They are in the Top Five this season despite their outside hitters, not because of them.

Key Players

So. 6’0 S 2 Sidney Hilley*- 11.64 A/S (3), 0.3 SA/S (11)

Sr. 6’2 MB 11 Tionna Williams- .320 (8), 0.95 B/S (15)

Jr. 6’3 RS 14 Madison Duello- 2.73 B/S, .284 (15) , 0.26 SA/S

So. 6’8 MB 16 Dana Rettke- 3.95 K/S (5), .461 (1), 1.36 B/S (2), 0.27 SA/S

Jr. 5’11 L 17 Tiffany Clark- 4.93 D/S (1)

So. 6’3 OH 21 Grace Loberg- 2.46 K/S, 2.15 D/S

So. 6’1 OH 23 Molly Haggerty- 2.34 D/S, 0.41 SA/S (2)

*Hilley hails from Brooklyn Park where she attended Champlin Park

Michigan State

Minnesota gets the Spartans (15-10, 3-9) twice in eight days and we’ll likely see the same kind of performance as last Friday.

Key Players

So. 5’6 L 4 Jayme Cox- 3.42 D/S (13)

Sr. 6’2 OH 9 Maddie Haggerty- 2.54 K/S

So. 6’2 OH 11 Alyssa Chronowski*- 3.49 K/S (10)

Fr. 6’1 S 12 Elena Shklyar- 8.07 A/S (13)

Fr. 6’3 MB 17 Naya Gros- 1.07 B/S (8)

Fr. 6’2 MB 21 Rebecka Poljan- 0.86 B/S (15)

Big Ten Honors

Samantha Seliger-Swenson picked up her sixth consecutive Setter of the Week honor, splitting this week with Illinois’ Jordyn Poulter. CC McGraw was recognized as the Freshman of the Week.

Big Ten Standings

Barring an unforeseen disaster, it isn’t likely anyone will catch the Gophers. The logjam at second will open up down the stretch; Penn State still has to play Illinois and Wisconsin.

The Big Ten isn’t the only major conference with an undefeated front-runner. Stanford is perfect in the Pac-12 as is Kentucky in the SEC. BYU, of course, is still perfect overall and has only dropped one set in the West Coast Conference.

AVCA Rankings

  1. BYU (52)
  2. Stanford (12)
  3. Minnesota
  4. Illinois
  5. Wisconsin

7. Penn State

8. Nebraska

13. Purdue

14. Michigan

Penn State dropped from No. 4 to 7 after losing in five sets at home to Purdue. Even though Illinois was ranked higher coming into their match with Nebraska it was in some ways an upset as they beat the Huskers in four sets in Lincoln. Pitt who was previously unbeaten lost on the road to Duke dropping them from No. 5 to 10. Hawaii scored a big upset snapping Cal Poly’s 26 match conference win streak when they won in five sets.

RPI Rankings

  1. Stanford
  2. Illinois
  3. BYU
  4. Minnesota
  5. Texas
  6. Wisconsin

12. Purdue

13. Michigan

14. Nebraska

16. Penn State

49. Northwestern

57. Ohio State

64. Iowa

71. Maryland

72. Indiana

79. Michigan State

198. Rutgers