Sept. 15, 2011
Marquette Challenge Notes
The No. 9 University of Minnesota volleyball program closes out the non-conference schedule traveling to the Marquette Challenge, Sept. 17-18 in Milwaukee, Wis. The Golden Gophers will face Middle Tennessee State on Saturday night at 5 p.m., while drawing host Marquette Sunday at 2 p.m.
Saturday's match marks the first time Minnesota and Middle Tennessee State will compete against each other in school history. The Golden Gophers and Golden Eagles have competed against each other six times as the Gophers hold a 6-0 mark against the Eagles.
Although non-conference opponents, Marquette and Minnesota are no strangers in competing against each other, especially in recent years. Minnesota hosted Marquette last year in the Gopher Invite. The Golden Gophers defeated the Golden Eagles in three sets (27-25, 25-17 and 25-22) to win the tournament. Prior to the 2010 meeting, Minnesota competed against Marquette in 2003 as part of the Nike Invitational, which they also won in three sets, 30-26, 30-24, 30-26.
Besides both having a "Golden" mascot, Minnesota and Marquette also have something in common. Minnesota coach Laura Bush was the head coach at Marquette for three years. In her first season (1999) with the Golden Eagles, she led them to an 18-13 record. The .581 winning percentage was the best by a Marquette squad since 1985 at the time. In her last year, Bush was 19-13 in 2001.
Marquette enters the tournament with an 8-3 overall record after defeating Green Bay in four sets Tuesday night. After dropping the first set, 21-25, the Golden Eagles battled back and won, 25-13, 25-20 and 25-15. Two of the three Marquette losses came against Minnesota's opponents of last weekend. St. Louis defeated the Eagles in the season opener (8/26) in three sets, while dropping a three-set decision against then No. 14 Northern Iowa (8/29). After losing to Northern Illinois on Sept. 3, the Eagles enter the tournament with a five-game win streak. The Eagles' kill leaders include Ciara Jones (3.58 kps), Danielle Carlson (3.21 kps) and Ashley Beyer (2.97 kps). The Minnesota match will mark the highest-ranked opponent Marquette has ever hosted.
Middle Tennessee State enters the Marquette Challenge with a 2-6 overall record. The Blue Raiders opened the 2011 season against No. 15 Colorado State and fell in three sets. After a loss to Arkansas (3-0) and back-to-back wins against Missouri (3-1) and East Tennessee State (3-1), MTS is looking for its first win after four-straight losses. Facing then-No. 4 Illinois on Sept. 9, the Blue Raiders also fell to Tulsa and Cal Poly during their host tournament. Leading the team in kills is Ashley Adams with 118 and a .324 hitting percentage. Lindsaey Cheatham averages 0.83 blocks per set and has 24 blocks and 55 kills this year. Angela Peyton has 224 assists (9.33 aps), while Brynne Henderson has 116 digs, averaging 4.00 per set.
After the Marquette Challenge, Minnesota will open the Big Ten Conference season in grand style next weekend. The Gophers host No. 3 Illinois at the Sports Pavilion, Sept. 23. Then on Sunday afternoon, Minnesota hosts Northwestern. Friday's match is slated for 7 p.m., while Sunday's tilt is 1 p.m.