Sept. 8, 2011
UNI Tournament Notes
Audio for all weekend matches can be found here.
The No. 6 University of Minnesota volleyball program takes its three-match win streak on the road to Cedar Falls, Iowa to compete in the Clarion Inn-Vitational. The Golden Gophers face St. Louis on Friday night at 5 p.m., and compete against Kansas (10 a.m.) and No. 15 Northern Iowa (7 p.m.) Saturday night. It will be the third-straight tournament the Golden Gophers will play in and enter the tourney, 3-1. All three matches will be available through the free audio option on gophersports.com.
Following the Gophers’ jump from No. 11 to No. 6 in the AVCA poll, the Gophers haven’t changed what they want to do throughout the season, which is to improve every weekend of play. Like the first two weeks, the Maroon and Gold will face its third ranked team of the young 2011 season.
“It’s nice to be recognized, it really is and there’s no doubt about that,” Coach Laura Bush said. “However, where we are now compared to where we want to be at the end of the season is very different. As we told the team, kudos to you guys, you did a lot of great work and people are recognizing it. But we have three tough opponents this weekend and we need to get a lot better. We then show them video and they realize where we are coming from and we got back to work for the rest of the week.”
The Gophers hold a 3-1 all-time record against St. Louis with the last match against the Billikens in 2006 and the first in 1975. The match against Kansas is the 16th meeting between the two teams as Minnesota holds a 12-3 mark against the Jayhawks. Minnesota is also 16-6 against the UNI Panthers, dating back to their first meeting in 1976.
The last time the Gophers faced St. Louis was in 2006 when they opened the season with the Billikens. Minnesota won the match in four, 32-34, 30-24, 30-18, 30-27 at the Baumann-Eberhardt Center on Sept. 1, 2006. Minnesota and Kansas faced each other in 2003 when the Gophers lost to the Jayhawks in five games (30-20, 30-32, 30-21, 20-30 and 10-15) at the Sports Pavilion, Sept. 5, 2003, in the Nike Invitational. Out of the three teams in this tournament, the Gophers have faced Northern Iowa the most times and also the most recently in 2010. In the Diet Coke Classic last season, Northern Iowa came to the Sports Pavilion and defeated the Gophers in five sets (25-16, 16-25, 17-25, 25-23 and 18-16) on Sept. 4, 2010.
St. Louis enters the tournament with a 3-1 mark after it defeated Marquette (3-0), Iowa (3-2), fell to Central Michigan (0-3) Aug. 26-27 and defeated Arkansas State (3-1), Sept. 5. The Billikens are led by first-year head coach Kent Miller, who was an assistant coach at Illinois. SLU is led by Alyssa Deno, who has 41 kills, 48 digs and nine service aces. Andrea Beaty leads the team with 18 blocks and has 30 kills. Last year, LSU posted a 19-13 slate and finished third in the Atlantic 10 Conference with an 11-4 mark.
The Kansas Jayhawks enter the weekend with a 6-0 record and have only dropped one set this season en routes to tournament wins at the Georgia Bulldog Invitational and the Jayhawk Invitational. Led by head coach Ray Bechard, Kansas held a 17-14 record last season. Allison Mayfield has played in 19 sets and leads the team with 85 kills (4.47 kps), andwas also both of the tournament’s most valuable player. Caroline Jarmoc was also a two-time all-tournament honoree and averages a team-high 1.58 blocks per set.
Host institution Northern Iowa is ranked 15th in the AVCA poll and enters the tournament with a perfect 7-0 record. Last weekend, UNI went 4-0 and won the Delaware Asics Invitational. Senior setter Bre Payton was named the MVC Player of the Week when she had 2.19 kills, 10.8 sets and 2.75 digs per set last weekend. Krista DeGeest has played in 26 sets and averages a team-best 3.27 kps and averages 1.38 bps. Led by coach Bobbi Petersen, the Panthers have won four MVC regular season titles and two NCAA Sweet 16 appearances.
The Clarion Inn-Vitational is the third tournament the Gophers play in this year and the third different format where Minnesota plays two matches on Saturday. The Gophers had two different opponents in the AVCA Showcase (Aug. 26-27), the same opponent in two nights (Texas in the Diet Coke Classic) and now three teams in two days at UNI. However, coach Bush doesn’t change how they approach this weekend’s opponents any different than the first two weeks.
“From a coach’s mindset, this weekend is exactly the same,” Bush said. We still have to take care of the pieces on our side of the net for us to be successful against any opponent. This weekend, we’re going to be going against three different style of playing teams and we’re going to have to be good twice on Saturday to come out with wins, specifically against the home team on the prime time slot Saturday against Northern Iowa. They’re ranked, they’re scrappy, they’re good and I’m sure will have a hostile fan crowd, which is also awesome for us. It’s just another way for us to gain competitive maturity.”