The Minnesota volleyball team will travel to Illinois and Northwestern this week. Minnesota will face Illinois on Friday, Oct. 16 at 6:30 p.m. at Assembly Hall in a match that will take place prior to the Illini’s “Midnight Madness” for basketball.
Minnesota will head to Northwestern to face the Wildcats on Saturday, Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. Friday’s match can be seen on tape-delay on the Big Ten Network on Sunday, Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. Both matches can be heard live on the Gold Zone.
The Golden Gophers enter the week ranked No. 6 in the nation in the AVCA Top 25. For a second straight match, Minnesota will face top 10 competition as it battles No. 10 Illinois. The Golden Gophers will have faced seven ranked opponents this year at the end of this week. Four of those matches will have been against teams in the top 10. Six of the seven matches against ranked opposition have been against teams ranked No. 12 or higher.
Minnesota is led by junior middle blocker Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minn.). Gibbmeyer is hitting .443 with 3.26 kps and 1.48 blps. Gibbemeyer is eighth in the nation and blocks and seventh in hitting percentage, making her one of only two players Division to be in the top 10 in both categories. She is second in the Big Ten in kills in conference play, second in points in Big Ten play, second in hitting percentage and fourth in blocks.
Junior outside hitter Brook Dieter is fifth in the Big Ten in kills with 3.92 kps and fourth in points with 4.57 pps. Sophomore middle blocker Ariana Filho is also 19th in the nation in hitting percentage at .387. Minnesota and Penn State are the only two teams in the nation with two players in the top 20 in hitting percentage. Senior Christine Tan is seventh in digs at 3.87, while Taylor Carico is second in the conference in assists in Big Ten play at 11.95 aps.
Minnesota is 6-0 in true road matches this year. The Golden Gophers have defeated Navy, George Mason, South Florida, Denver, Purdue and Indiana. Minnesota is also 68-26 in road matches since 2002, and 52-20 in Big Ten road contests in the same stretch.
Illinios enters the weekend with a 13-3 overall record and are third in the Big Ten at 5-2. The Illini are on a four-match Big Ten winning streak, after starting out 1-2 in conference play. Last week, the Illini defeated Purdue in five sets and Indiana in three sets. Illinois also defeated Northwestern on Oct. 14 in three sets.
They are led by Laura DeBruler who has 4.47 kps, 2.74 dps and 0.54 blps. Michelle Bartsch also has 3.25 kps, 2.29 dps and 1.09 blps. Johannah Bangert leads the team with 1.53 blps and has 1.30 kps. Kylie McCulley also has 2.95 kps and 2.42 dps. Setter Hillary Haen has 11.53 aps and 1.96 dps, while Ashley Edinger has 4.12 dps. Minnesota has won nine of the last 10 meetings between the two programs, and are 18-8 against Illinois when Mike Hebert coaches against his former team. The last three matches these teams have played have gone to five sets.
The Wildcats enter the weekend with an 11-8 overall record and are 10th in the Big Ten at 2-5. Northwestern started out 0-4 in conference play, before winning a pair of five-set matches at home against Purdue and Indiana last week. The Wildcats lost to No. 10 Illinois on Oct. 14 in three sets. Northwestern is led by Sabel Moffett who is averaging 3.40 kps, is hitting .407 and leads the team with 1.34 blps. Naomi Johnson also has 2.55 kps and 0.82 blps, while Ariel Baxterbeck has 2.12 kps and 2.38 dps. Elyse Glab is averaging 10.12 aps and 2.04 dps, while Kate Nobilio leads the team with 4.43 dps.