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Gopher Volleyball Roundup: National Signing Day and Conference Race

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Minnesota nabbed two of the top three recruits in the class of 2020, including PrepVolleyball.com’s number one recruit Taylor Landfair, another top 20 recruit and the last member of the four-person class fell just outside the top 100. Tonight’s match with Wisconsin has major conference title implications.

2020 #1 Recruit Taylor Landfair
Gopher Athletics

The last couple weeks have great for the Gophers (19-3, 13-1) including signing day yesterday which saw them ink one of the top classes in the country. The Gophers are riding an eight-game win streak into the border battle against Wisconsin.

National Signing Day

Surpassing last year’s eighteenth ranked recruiting class, the Gopher’s 2020 signees include the number one overall recruit, number three, number 16, and one just outside the top 100 (final recruiting class rankings don’t come out til spring). The top three were also named AVCA Under Armour First Team All-Americans and the trio have all played in the USA Volleyball system.

Leading off the class, Cami Appiani, 5’9, libero hails from San Diego, California where she attends Torrey Pines High School. Appiani is in the midst of CIF playoffs and has already racked up 75 aces and 180 digs this season for the top ranked team in California. Appiani fell in PrepVolleyball.com’s top 110 (PV doesn’t rank anyone past 100 but there is a distinction for the first 10 outside the top 100).

Perhaps the most valuable recruit in this year’s class, Melani Shaffmaster, 6’4, setter, from New Castle, Indiana, has been committed to the U since eighth grade. Shaffmaster has plenty of championship experience winning three club national titles and three consecutive state titles The No. 16 recruit in the class of 2020 is an excellent setter but can fill other roles if necessary having hit on both pins. While accumulating over 3,800 assists she also eclipsed the 1,000 kill plateau, 1,281, including 280 this season while hitting .555. Like so many other Munciana athletes Shaffmaster is no slouch defensively averaging 2.6 digs per set this season and finishing her career with 946. She also recorded 300 total blocks over her career. She’s great from the service line too utilizing both a jump float serve and topspin to the tune of 288 aces over four seasons. She was Indiana’s Gatorade Player of the year in 2017 and was the 2017 National Sophomore of the year as named by PrepVolleyball.com and MaxPreps who also tabbed her as the Freshman of the Year in 2016.

Another athlete who could make huge contributions for the Gophers is the No. 3 recruit in the 2020 class, Jenna Wenaas, 6’1, outside hitter. Wenaas hails from Frisco, Texas where stars at Liberty High School. This past season she set a career high with 642 kills, 5.1 per set while hitting .355. Through her career she hit .298 tallying 2,120 kills to go with 141 aces, 190 blocks, and 1515 digs. Wenaas can score from the front and back row and is a tremendous defender and passer.

The crown jewel of this year’s class is Prepvolleyball.com’s #1 Senior Ace, Taylor Landfair. The 6’4 outside hitter from Plainfield, Illinois is college-ready in every phase of the game. Offensively she touches 10’6 hitting over the top of most blocks. She plays and excels in all six rotations. She finished her career at Plainfield Central with 1,378 kills (Illinois High School Association plays best of three set matches) while hitting .315. This season she averaged 5.8 kills per set while hitting .338 and posting 3.9 digs per set. Her other career totals are 127 aces, 127 blocks, and 743 digs.

Looking ahead to other commits from future classes...

2021

Natalie Glenn- Southlake Carroll HS, TX, 5’10 OH - PV Soph 79

Anna Wolf- River Falls HS, WI 6’3 MB - PrepVolleyball.com Soph 79 Elite Honorable Mention

Skylar Gray- Maple Grove HS, MN, 5’10 OH/L/DS - PV Soph 79 High Honorable Mention

2022

Mckenna Wucherer- Brookfield Central HS, WI, 6’1 OH - PV Frosh 59

Carter Booth- Cherry Creek HS, CO (formerly Benilde-St. Margaret’s, MN), 6’7 MB - PV Special Mention Frosh 59

Match Recaps

Purdue

Minnesota got the season sweep over Purdue the first weekend of the month with a four-set win; 25-23, 16-25, 25-17, 25-19. The Gophers were out-served, 7 aces to 3, and out-blocked 10-8 but were still able to prevail as the Boilers couldn’t hang with the Gopher offense which hit .288.

Alexis Hart was phenomenal registering 19 kills while hitting .467 and picking up five digs. Adanna Rollins picked up a double-double with 14 kills and 10 digs. Bayley McMenimen put up 27 assists and Tamara Dolonga posted 23. CC McGraw finished with 18 digs.

Maryland

Last weekend Minnesota picked up a sweep over Maryland on their road trip east; 25-21, 25-19, 25-21. The Gopher offense was too much for the Terrapins to handle as Minnesota hit .274 and blasted 48 kills.

Adanna Rollins posted another double-double with 13 kills and 12 digs. Dolonga and McMenimine put up 18 and 17 assists respectively. Five different Gophers had an ace.

Ohio State

The second time around Minnesota had a much easier time getting past the Buckeyes not dropping a set as they won 25-23, 25-20, 26-24. The Gophers took advantage of Buckeye errors as they outhit them .271-.135 and racked up 12 blocks.

Airi Miyabe and Rollins both posted 11 kills while Hart finished with 10; Miyabe and Hart both hit over .400 and Rollins got another double-double with 12 digs. McMenimen also had a double-double with 20 assists and 13 digs to go with two aces while and Dolonga had 12 assists. Regan Pittman and Stephanie Samedy both got six blocks and Taylor Morgan added five.

Week Preview

So far Minnesota has done well in their 6-2 offense generating plenty of points and staying low-error. This may be put to the test against the Badgers. Can Minnesota generate enough points to beat Wisconsin? The Gophers may have to be more aggressive than normal, serving and hitting. Wisconsin scores with ease in system and transitions well. Minnesota will have force them out of system and that means serving tougher and going for big swings even when they odds may not be as great. Currently, Minnesota is second to last in the league with only 1.12 service aces per set. The less, prime opportunities Wisconsin has the better.

Key Players

class, height, position, # name, stats (statistical rank nationally, in the conference)
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. 5’8 S 1 Tamara Dolonga- 4.79 A/S

So. 5’9 L 7 CC McGraw- 4.22 D/S (3), 0.26 SA/S

Jr.. 6’2 RS 10 Stephanie Samedy- 3.36 K/S (9), .235, 2.66 D/S, 0.88 B/S

Sr. 6’0 MB 12 Taylor Morgan- 2.03 K/S, .342 (8), 1.17 B/S (8)

So. 5’9 S 13 Bayley McMenimen- 7.47 A/S (11)

Sr. 6’0 OH 19 Alexis Hart- 3.11 K/S, .281

So. 6’0 OH 20 Adanna Rollins- 2.62 K/S, 3.17 D/S

Jr. 6’5 MB 21 Regan Pittman- 2.34 K/S, .355 (6), 1.38 B/S (18, 1)

Wisconsin

Last weekend the Badgers (17-5, 13-1) were on the losing end of a four-set battle with Ohio State which gave Wisconsin their first loss in conference play this season. Serve-pass struggles doomed the Badgers as Ohio State racked up 10 aces. Wisconsin looked much better the next night as they swept Maryland. Dana Rettke has gotten plenty of help from the rest of the roster this season while still dominating and ranking in the top 10 in the conference for every major state for a middle blocker including serving. Should the Badger’s passing woes resurface it won’t matter what Dana Rettke does cause they won’t be able to get her the ball enough.

Key Players

Jr. 5’6 DS 1 Lauren Barnes- 2.51 D/S

Jr. 6’0 S 2 Sidney Hilley*- 11.91 A/S (7, 1), 2.13 D/S

Fr. 5’11 S/DS 11 Izzy Ashburn*- 2.45 D/S, 0.49 SA/S (16, 1)

Sr. 6’3 OH/RS 14 Madison Duello- 2.09 K/S, .261

Jr. 6’8 MB 16 Dana Rettke- 3.86 K/S (4), .414 (10, 3), 1.28 B/S (41, 5), 0.42 SA/S (3)

Sr. 5’11 L 17 Tiffany Clark- 3.81 D/S (8)

So. 6’4 MB 18 Danielle Hart- .315 (11), 1.12 B/S (13)

Jr. 6’3 OH 21 Grace Loberg- 3.28 K/S (15), .278

Jr. 6’1 OH 23 Molly Haggerty- 3.36 K/S (11), .237

*Hilley and Ashburn were both standouts at Champlin Park.

Michigan

The Wolverines (18-7, 11-4) took Minnesota the distance last time as Minnesota prevailed in five. Like Wisconsin, Michigan is a strong serving team. They also boast a top outside hitter in Paige Jones. Last time Jones went off 26 while the rest of the Michigan offense was held in check. That may have to be the strategy again, force someone besides Jones to beat you.

Key Players

So. 6’1 OH 1 Paige Jones- 3.83 K/S (3), .264, 2.21 D/S, 0.38 SA/S (6)

Jr. 5’7 L 8 Natalie Smith- 3.35 D/S (14)

Sr. 6’1 S 9 MacKenzi Welsh- 10.97 A/S (28, 3), 2.11 D/S

Fr. 6’2 MB 14 Jess Robinson- .321 (10)

Sr. 6’1 OH 15 Sydney Wetterstrom- 2.75 K/S, 2.61 D/S

Sr. 6’3 MB 16 Cori Crocker- .451, 0.83 B/S

Fr. 6’1 MB/OH 18 May Pertofsky- 2.28 K/S, .264, 0.34 SA/S (9)

*Michigan has two Minnesotas on their roster Grace Persson-Eden Prairie and Kayla Bair- Prior Lake

Big Ten Standings

Standings Conf. Pct. Overall Pct.
Standings Conf. Pct. Overall Pct.
Minnesota 13-1 0.929 19-3 0.864
Wisconsin 13-1 0.929 17-5 0.773
Nebraska 13-2 0.867 21-3 0.875
Penn State 12-2 0.857 19-4 0.826
Michigan 11-4 0.733 18-7 0.72
Purdue 8-6 0.571 16-7 0.696
Illinois 7-7 0.5 12-11 0.522
Ohio State 6-8 0.429 13-13 0.5
Michigan State 5-10 0.333 14-11 0.56
Maryland 4-10 0.286 12-14 0.462
Iowa 3-12 0.2 9-17 0.346
Indiana 2-12 0.143 13-14 0.481
Rutgers 2-12 0.143 8-17 0.32
Northwestern 1-13 0.071 10-16 0.385
Current as of 11-13-19 https://bigten.org/confstandings.aspx/2019-20/vb?path=wvball

Thursday night’s match will go a long way in deciding who wins the conference. It’s not a sure thing that the winner will win the conference as both teams still play Nebraska and Penn State before season’s end but it does give them an advantage.

AVCA Rankings Week 11

Rank School (First-Place Votes) 2019 Record Previous Week Result against
Rank School (First-Place Votes) 2019 Record Previous Week Result against
1 Texas (50) 17-2 1 L
2 Pittsburgh (12) 25-1 2 -
3 Baylor (1) 20-1 3 -
4 Stanford (1) 18-4 5 W
5 Minnesota 19-3 6 -
6 Nebraska 20-3 7 -
7 Wisconsin 17-5 4 L
8 Penn State 19-4 8 -
9 Marquette 23-3 10 -
10 BYU 22-3 11 -
11 Florida 20-3 12 W
12 Colorado State 24-1 13 -
13 Washington 19-5 14 -
14 Creighton 20-4 9 -
15 Utah 18-7 16 -
16 Purdue 16-7 15 W, W
17 Kentucky 18-6 18 -
18 Hawai'i 22-3 19 -
19 Western Kentucky 26-1 22 -
20 California 20-4 20 -
21 Rice 22-2 17 -
22 Washington State 21-5 24 -
23 Michigan 17-7 NR W
24 San Diego 20-5 NR -
25 Illinois 12-11 21 W, W
https://www.avca.org/polls/di-women/11-11-2019.html

RPI Standings

RPI School Result
RPI School Result
1 Baylor -
2 Texas L
3 Pittsburgh -
4 Wisconsin L
5 Stanford W
6 Florida W
7 Minnesota -
8 Nebraska -
9 Washington -
10 Texas A&M -
11 Hawaii -
12 Penn State -
13 Kentucky -
14 Marquette -
15 Rice -
24 Purdue W, W
32 Florida State L
36 Michigan W
43 Illinois W, W
47 Ohio State W, W
62 North Carolina W
75 Oregon W
83 Michigan State W
89 Iowa W
99 Indiana W
101 Northwestern W
107 Maryland W
113 Rutgers W
138 Clemson W
277 Oral Roberts W
Current as of 11-10-19 https://www.ncaa.com/rankings/volleyball-women/d1/ncaa-womens-volleyball-rpi