GOPHERS BACK ON THE ROAD THIS WEEKEND The No. 14 University of Minnesota volleyball program returns home for the first time since Sept. 23 and 25 when it hosts Iowa and Nebraska this weekend. The Gophers face the Hawkeyes at 7 p.m. at the Sports Pavilion Friday, Oct. 14. Minnesota then hosts Nebraska, Oct. 15 at 7 p.m., in Williams Arena.
DIG PINK/BATTLE IN THE BARN Saturday's Nebraska match at Williams Arena is the Dig Pink night, where student-athletes will be at the entrances to collect monetary donations that goes toward breast cancer awareness. Dig Pink shirts ($10) and ace cards ($1) will be sold throughout the day and all proceeds go toward Dig Pink. The Saturday match is also the Battle in the Barn and admission for the Saturday event is $1. High School teams receive free admission when they submit their roster to email@example.com. University of Minnesota Faculty and Staff receive free admission for themselves and guests, while showing their UCard. Doors for the Saturday event will open at 5:30 p.m.
ON THE DOCKET The Golden Gophers are on the road for the next two weeks when they travel to Wisconsin on Oct. 19 and Purdue, on Oct. 22. The Wednesday game against Wisconsin is at 7 p.m., while the Saturday tilt is scheduled for 6 p.m. The Gophers then travel to Northwestern and Illinois, Oct. 28-29. Both matches start at 7 p.m.
GOPHER ALL-ACCESS Fans that can't make it to the Friday match against Iowa, Gopher All-Access is your place to be to watch all the action. You can join Gopher All-Access for $9.95 per month or $79.95 per year. Also, this winter you can watch several Gopher men's basketball and women's basketball games, along with select Gopher men's hockey, women's hockey and wrestling events. Gopher All-Access is also part of the Big Ten Digital Network. If you upgrade to the Big Ten package, you can access hundreds of live events featuring all 12 conference schools. And as always, free audio is available for all home matches and select road contests. Road matches included on gophersports.com is at Wisconsin (Oct. 19), at Nebraska (Nov. 16) and at Iowa (Nov. 19). Check the volleyball schedule for links/coverage details.
BTN TO TELEVISE MATCHES IN CONFERENCE PLAY The Big Ten Network will have four remaining University of Minnesota regular season volleyball matches on television this season. Of the four, three will be televised live on BTN. The Oct. 15 home match against Nebraska will be televised on a tape delay for Oct. 17 at 9 p.m., while the Nov. 4 home match vs. the Nittany Lions will be televised live at 8 p.m. CT. Two of the Gophers' Wednesday night matches will also be televised when they host Michigan State (Nov. 9) at 7 p.m. CT and travel to Nebraska (Nov. 16) at 7 p.m. CT.
GOPHERS AT THE SPORTS PAVILION Minnesota is 47-5 in the last three seasons at the Sports Pavilion and 3-1 so far in 2011. Minnesota has only had four matches at home so far this season, defeating Texas (Sept. 2-3) and Northwestern last weekend. The Golden Gophers went 16-2 in 2010 on their home court and 14-1 in 2009 with their only loss coming to National Champion Penn State. In 2008, Minnesota lost to Iowa State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament and North Carolina in the Gopher Invitational. The Golden Gophers are 24-3 in their last 27 home conference matches.
BATTLE IN THE BARN Since the Minnesota volleyball program moved to the Sports Pavilion in 1993, the Gophers have played seven matches in Williams Arena. Although it was coined the phrase "Battle in the Barn" in 2007, Minnesota started playing one match a season in 2004. The largest crowd to witness a Gopher volleyball match was on Oct. 16, 2004 when 10,927 fans witnessed then No. 2 Minnesota defeat No. 23 Illinois in four sets. Last year, the Golden Gophers were victorious over Wisconsin in front of 6,268 fans. All games listed in the past seven years are also Minnesota's top attendance records in school history. Below lists the full breakdown as well as the outcome.
Atten. Opponent Outcome Date 1. 10,927 vs. Illinois W, 3-1 10/16/04 2. 10,126 vs. Penn State L, 0-3 10/11/08 3. 9,761 vs. Indiana W, 3-0 10/29/05 4. 8,377 vs. Purdue W, 3-1 10/14/06 5. 7,547 vs. Michigan W, 3-1 10/24/09 6. 6,285 vs. Ohio State L, 2-3 10/27/07 7. 6,268 vs. Wisconsin W, 3-1 10/24/10
ALL-TIME RECORDS Minnesota is 65-13 all-time against the Hawkeyes, dating back to 1975. Minnesota has won the last four matches in straight sets to Iowa and went 3-2 in 2008. Minnesota holds a 31-win streak against the Hawkeyes, dating back to 1995. The Gophers, however, are on the other end against Nebraska, as they hold a 4-27 mark against the Cornhuskers all-time. Minnesota has lost the last 12 matches against the Huskers, including a 3-2 heartbreaker at home in 2005.
THE LAST TIME The Golden Gophers faced Iowa twice last year, and defeated the Hawkeyes in three sets both times. The last time Iowa came to the Sports Pavilion was on Oct. 27 and won the match by scores of 25-22, 25-19, 25-16. Former Gopher Lauren Gibbemeyer hit a season-high .556 (11-1-18), had 11 kills and four blocks. Ashley Wittman had 10 kills and five digs.
The last time Minnesota faced Nebraska was in conjunction with the AVCA Showcase in 2009. The Gophers fell to the Huskers in five sets by scores of 25-20, 21-25, 25-19, 15-25, 15-9 on Aug. 29. The last time Nebraska visited Minnesota dates back to Sept. 5, 2005 when the Huskers were ranked No. 1 and Minnesota was ranked No. 6. Minnesota fell in five, 27-30, 25-30, 30-26, 30-25 and 12-15.
ABOUT IOWA Iowa enters the weekend with an 11-8 overall record and a 1-5 mark in conference play. The Hawkeyes are coming off a weekend split, falling to Purdue in three sets (25-19,25-13,25-21), while defeating Indiana in five (25-14,20-25,25-21,16-25,15-13). Freshman Alex Lovell leads the Hawkeye attack with 2.81 kills per set and hitting .192. Senior Megan Eskew has 181 kills, averaging 2.55 kps, while senior Mallory Husz leads Iowa with 1.07 blocks per set.
ABOUT NEBRASKA Holding a No. 5 ranking in the AVCA poll, Nebraska enters the weekend with a 13-1 overall record and have yet to be defeated in the Big Ten, holding a perfect 6-0 record. Nebraska's only loss of the season came against then No. 15 Colorado State in five (9/2). Nebraska has taken two conference matches to five against Penn State and Michigan State, winning both. Four Huskers have recorded triple digit kills in Gina Mancuso (191, 3.54 kps), Morgan Broekhuis (172, 3.19 kps), Hannah Werth (130, 2,45 kps) and Brooke Delano (106, 2.00 kps). Broekhuis and Hayley Thramer lead the blocking charge for Nebraska, averaging 1.06 and 1.36 blocks per set.
THIS TIME, LAST YEAR Minnesota was ranked 19th on Oct. 11, 2010 and traveled to Ohio State and Penn State. Minnesota entered that weekend and was 14-5 on the season and 4-3 in conference play. The Gophers played Penn State and Ohio State, Oct. 15-16, falling to both. The Gophers then fell to Illinois in the Sports Pavilion, Oct. 22, before they defeated Wisconsin in the Battle at the Barn.
PUT YA HANDS UP Minnesota also outblocked both of its opponents last weekend. Minnesota held a blocking ratio of 15.5 to Michigan's 5.0 last weekend. That mark set a season high, beating out a previous best of 15.0 against Oregon this year. Minnesota also outblocked MSU 8.0 to 4.0.
GOPHER LEADERS Minnesota is led by sophomore outside hitter Ashley Wittman. A six-rotation player, Wittman lead the team with 282 kills in 60 sets played to average 4.70 kills per set. Tori Dixon has the team's second-highest kill mark with 178 kills, while Hailey Cowles has 131. Mia Tabberson is the Gophers' setter, establishing 685 sets this season. Jessica Granquist holds a reception percentage of .952 in 60 sets played, while Ariana Filho leads the Gopher squad with 0.97 blocks per set.
IN THE BIG TEN Minnesota ranks high as a team and individually within the Big Ten. The Gophers rank third in assists (13.50 aps), sixth in digs (14.93 dps) and hitting percentage (.253) and fourth in kills (14.23 kps). Minnesota has two individuals rank in the top 10 in hitting percentage as Ariana Filho is at .362, while Tori Dixon is at .377. Mia Tabberson leads the conference with 12.02 assists per set, while Jessica Granquist ranks second in digs per set at 4.83. Ashley Wittman leads the Big Ten in kills per set (4.70), while ranking second in points (5.18 per set).
WHERE THEY RANK NATIONALLY Minnesota has some individuals rank high within the national statistics. Mia Tabberson ranks third nationally in assists per set at 12.02, while Tori Dixon ranks 28th (.377) and Ariana Filho ranks 45th (.362) in hitting percentage. Ashley Wittman is currently ranked ninth in kills per set (4.70) and 13th in points per set (5.18). As a team, the Gophers rank eighth in assists per set (13.50), 17th in kills per set (14.23) and 33rd in hitting (.253).
GOPHERS AGAINST RANKED TEAMS Minnesota has faced six ranked teams in the 2011 season and hold a 4-4 record against AVCA ranked opponents this season. The team dropped the opener to then-No. 2 Southern Cal in five sets. The Gophers, however, swept then-No. 4 Texas, 3-0, 3-0 (Sept. 2-3). Minnesota also faced Oregon, who wasn't ranked at the time (received votes), but were ranked following a win over Penn State and taking Minnesota to five sets (8/27). The Gophers then defeated No. 15 Northern Iowa (9/10) in five sets, but fell to Illinois (9/23) in five sets, No. 24 Ohio State and No. 9 Penn State. Minnesota's last win against a ranked team came last Friday night against No. 18 Michigan.
PACKIN THE PAV Minnesota volleyball and its fans currently rank third in the country. In four matches, Minnesota had 15,679 walk through the Sports Pavilion, averaging 3,919 fans per game. Hawaii leads the nation averaging 6,625 fans, while Nebraska averages 4,878. Penn State trails Minnesota with 3,534 average attendance, while Wisconsin is fifth with 3,252 average.