The Minnesota volleyball program (16-3, 6-1) will host Michigan State (11-6, 3-3) at the Sports Pavilion on Friday, Oct. 17 at 7 p.m.
Minnesota enters the weekend in second in place in the Big Ten at 6-1, after a three-set victory over Iowa on Oct. 15. The Golden Gophers’ match against Michigan State on Oct. 17 will be their fourth match in eight days. It will also wrap up a long home stand for Minnesota that has seen the Golden Gophers host 10 of the last 12 matches at home. Following the Michigan State match, Minnesota will be on the road for the next four matches.
As of Oct. 12, the Golden Gophers entered the week in the top five in the nation in both blocks and digs on the season. Minnesota’s 17.84 dps are second in the nation, while its 2.87 blps are fifth. Penn State’s 1994 team was the only team in the last 15 years to finish in the top 10 nationally in both digs and blocks in the same season.
Minnesota is led by Lauren Gibbemeyer who is averaging 3.31 kps, is hitting a team-high .320 and has 1.49 blps. Brook Dieter has 3.53 kps and 1.83 dps, while Christine Tan leads the Big Ten in digs per set at 5.25 dps. Rachel Hartmann is third in the Big Ten in assists at 11.05 aps, and also has 2.23 dps and 0.60 blps.
Michigan State enters the match in a three-way tie for fifth place at 3-3. The Spartans are led by Jenilee Rathjee who is averaging 3.93 kps and 2.20 dps. Vanessa King leads the team with 1.27 blps and has 3.00 kps. Allyson Karaba is fifth in the Big Ten leads Michigan State in digs, while Natalie Emro is averaging 10.65 aps, 1.22 kps and 1.41 dps.
The Minnesota-Michigan State match will be broadcast on ESPN 2 on a tape-delayed basis on Sunday, Oct. 19 at 12 p.m. (CT). The play-by-play announcer will be Beth Mowins and Karch Kiraly will be the color commentator. It will the third straight television match for Minnesota, and the fourth of the season.
Minnesota enters the match with a 16-3 mark, which is tied for the fourth-best 19-match start under Mike Hebert. The best start came in 2000 when the Golden Gophers jumped out to a 18-1 mark. Minnesota was also 17-2 in 2002 and 2004, and started 16-3 in 1999 and 2005. The 6-1 conference start is the best since 2006 when the Golden Gophers moved out to a 10-1 start in Big Ten play. Minnesota has started 6-1 or better in six different seasons under Hebert. The Golden Gophers were 7-0 in 1999, and 6-1 in 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006 and this year.