|| Minnesota vs. Wisconsin
Oct. 16, 2012
Minnesota Weekly Notes
Minnesota returns to the Sports Pavilion confines as it hosts Wisconsin and Purdue this week. The Gophers host the border rival Badgers on Wednesday, Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. Minnesota then welcomes the Purdue Boilermakers on Saturday, Oct. 20 at 7 p.m. The Purdue match will be the lone time this season the Gophers will face the Boilermakers during the 2012 regular season schedule.
Minnesota will be home for the second-straight week as it hosts Northwestern and Illinois, Oct. 26 and 28. Friday’s match against the Wildcats will be played in the Sports Pavilion at 6:30 p.m. Sunday’s tilt will be held in Williams Arena at noon.
Katherine Harms continues to be one of the best attackers in the Big Ten this season. The senior opposite leads the Big Ten in kills (averaging 4.38 per set) and second in points (4.98 ps). Harms has continued to improve each season with the Maroon and Gold. As a rookie, she posted 85 total kills in 68 games played. In 2010, she jumped to 165 kills to average 1.72. As a junior last year, Harms had 305 kills and has already produced 298 this season. A six-rotation player, Harms defensive skills have gone up each year as well. After she posted 24 digs as a freshman, Harms had 142 as a sophomore and 177 last year. This year in 60 sets played and 17 matches, Harms has 170 digs. She currently sits at 853 kills (603 as a junior and senior), and 513 digs (347 of those in last two years).
Junior Ashley Wittman has had four-straight matches where she recorded a double double in kills and digs. A six-rotation player, Wittman had 28 kills against Michigan and Michigan State two weeks ago and a team-high 35 digs. Last weekend against Iowa, Wittman had a match-high 16 kills and team-high 17 digs. Against No. 3 Nebraska, Wittman had 14 kills and 10 digs. In her career, Wittman has 1197 career kills and 929 career digs.
Minnesota holds a 43-26 all-time mark against the Badgers, dating back to 1975. Minnesota has won the last eight contests between the two teams. The Gophers are 42-28 all time against Purdue, also since 1975. Minnesota fell in four sets last year in the lone meeting, 16-25, 25-20, 19-25, 14-25, Oct. 22, in West Lafayette, Ind.
Wisconsin enters the match with a 15-6 overall record and 3-5 in the Big Ten. Splitting contests last weekend at Nebraska (loss) and Iowa (win), the Badgers are 5-2 on the road. Wisconsin needs only one more win to equal its win total from 2011. The Badgers were 16-16 last season, tying for seventh in the Big Ten at 8-12. Paving the way for Wisconsin is Alexis Mitchell, who is hitting .333 and averages 2.39 kills per set. Ellen Chapman has 209 kills and averages 2.94 kps in 71 sets. Mary Ording averages 1.16 blocks per set, as Mitchell holds 1.14. Annemarie Hickey leads the team with 351 digs, including a conference-high 142. Courtney Thomas is the starting setter and has 767 assists.
Minnesota defeated Wisconsin in straight sets (25-21, 25-21, 28-26) in the last meeting, Nov. 23, 2011, also at the Pav. Minnesota was led by Ashley Wittman and Tori Dixon, both of which tied for a match-high 14 kills. Dixon hit a match-high .667 hitting percentage (14-0-21) and recorded three block assists. Wittman also had eight digs and two block assists. The Golden Gophers also defeated UW on Oct. 19 in Madison, Wis. in five sets.
Purdue enters the week with a 14-5 overall record and a 5-3 Big Ten mark. The Boilermakers are coming off a three-set loss at Penn State and a four-set win at Ohio State. Ranked 17th in the AVCA poll, Purdue holds ranked wins against Northern Iowa, Michigan State and Illinois. The Boilermakers dropped their five contests to the likes of Washington, Louisville, and three-straight against Nebraska, Iowa and PSU last weekend. Purdue returns first-team All-American and 2011 Big Ten Player of the Year Ariel Turner. In her senior season, Turner holds 276 kills (810 swings) for .230 hitting percentage. She ranks third in the conference in points per set (4.84). KiKi Jones ranks seventh in the Big Ten, hitting .372 and a team second-best 123 kills. Libero Carly Cramer ranks fourth in the Big Ten in digs per set (4.03).
Minnesota, ranked 14th at the time, fell to then-No. 12 Purdue last year in West Lafayette, Ind. It was the only time Minnesota and Purdue met last season. Minnesota was led by Ashley Wittman, who had 15 kills, while Katherine Harms had 13. Wittman also record a double double when she led the team with 12 digs. Purdue had 14 kills and just two errors for a hitting percentage of .522 (14-2-23) in the first set to win it, 25-16. Minnesota, however, responded back in the second set and hit .441 in the second to even the match at 1-1 heading into the break. Minnesota held an early lead in the third set, 16-12, but Purdue rallied and tied the set, 18-18. The Boilermakers took the lead for good with a kill from Rachel Davis, en route to a 25-19 set win. The Boilermakers used that momentum in the fourth set and jumped out to a 16-6 lead. Minnesota attempted the comeback with a 6-1 run, but Purdue responded and won the set, 25-14. The last time Minnesota defeated Purdue was back in 2010, when the Gophers defeated the Boilermakers twice (10/1/10 at the Sports Pavilion and 11/6/10 at Purdue).