Oct. 17, 2013
GOPHERS RETURN HOME AFTER TWO-WEEK HIATUS
The No. 10 University of Minnesota volleyball team returns to the Sports Pavilion confines as it hosts No. 5 Michigan State and No. 16 Michigan this week. The Gophers and Spartans play at 7 p.m. on Thursday night as the match is televised live on ESPN2. Sam Gore and USA Volleyball head coach Karch Kiraly provide the play-by-play and color. The Gophers host the Wolverines on Saturday, also at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on Gopher All-Access.
ON THE DOCKET
The Gophers are on the road at Wisconsin, Oct. 23, and return home on Oct. 27 for the annual Dig Pink event, set for 1 p.m.
DIXON ON THE ATTACK
Tori Dixon has hit over .400 in 13 of Minnesota's 19 matches this season. The 6-foot, 3-inch middle blocker has hit over .600 in two matches this season, eight over .500 and three over .400. Having not played in the Dartmouth match, Minnesota is 13-0 when Dixon hits over .400 in a match and 2-3 when she's hit under .400. In the past two seasons, Dixon has hit over .400 in 33 matches.
DIXON NAMED DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Tori Dixon was named the Big Ten's Defensive Player of the Week after her performances against Penn State and Ohio State last weekend. The honor marks the fourth weekly honor for Dixon this season and the seventh of her Gopher career.
Dixon, a 6-foot, 3-inch middle blocker led the Gopher offense this past weekend as she posted a team-best 29 kills to average 3.62 kills per set and hit .269 against Penn State and Ohio State this past week. Along with 11 digs, Dixon also had a team-best 16 blocks. She provided a season-best nine blocks in the five-set match against Penn State. Her 12 kills were a match best against the Buckeyes as she led Minnesota in both kills (12) and blocks (7).
DID YOU KNOW?
Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan are the only three teams in the nation that have played or will play against six-straight ranked opponents this season. The Gophers are currently in the midst of playing five-straight against ranked opponents and will play against six-straight in November.
POWERING THE OFFENSE
Minnesota enters this weekend as the sixth-best hitting team in the country as it hits .310. In fact, Minnesota has hit over .300 in 13 matches this season, including two over .400 and one over .500. Minnesota's opponents, hold a .160 clip in 19 games this season.
NCAA ACTIVE LEADERS
Ashley Wittman reached her career kill No. 1,500 against Indiana (9/25) and now sits at 1,558 in her career. Her kills currently rank sixth nationally among active leaders. Dixon ranks 21st in the same category at 1,275 and also ranks eighth in career hitting percentage with a .370 mark.
Minnesota seniors Tori Dixon and Ashley Wittman have each had standout performances for the Gophers this season. Against Penn State, Wittman led the offensive charge when she had season bests in kills (18) and digs (22). In all, Dixon has led the Gophers in match kills 13 times, followed by Wittman with four. Wittman also leads the Gophers with seven double-doubles.
WHERE THEY RANK IN THE BIG TEN
Minnesota ranks high in a few of the conference statistical categories. Minnesota ranks second in blocks (2.86 blocks per set) and hitting percentage (.310), third in assists (12.92 assists per set) and fifth in kills (13.66). Individually, Dixon ranks third in the Big Ten in hitting percentage (.435), blocks (1.38) and points (5.15) and fourth in kills (4.15).
SERVE IT UP
In the Minnesota/Michigan State match, two of the best servers in the league will play in Minnesota's Daly Santana and MSU's Lauren Wicinski. On the season, Wicinski has 28 aces, while Santana has 20. In fact, Michigan State leads the Big Ten in aces as it averages 1.74 per set and has 106 total this year.
ABOUT THE SPARTANS
Michigan State enters the match with an impressive 17-1 record and an undefeated 6-0 mark within Big Ten play. The Spartans' only blemish on the record was a 3-0 loss to Pacific on August 30. Within conference action, the Spartans have defeated the likes of Penn State and Ohio State on the road and home wins against Northwestern, Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska. MSU is led offensively by Lauren Wicinski, who has a league-best 5.44 points per set. She ranks third in kills (4.59 kps) and second in aces (0.47). Alexis Mathews leads the league with a .455 hitting percentage, while Kori Moster leads the Big Ten with 4.33 digs per set.
ABOUT THE WOLVERINES
Michigan enters the weekend with a 12-5 record and a 2-4 mark within Big Ten play. The Wolverines are scheduled to play Wisconsin on Friday prior to the Minnesota match. A 2012 NCAA Final Four participant, Michigan is on the road for the first time since Sept. 27-28 when it faced Ohio State and Penn State, dropping both matches. As a team, the Wolverines have hit .261, which ranks fourth in the conference, Jennifer Cross ranks fifth in the league as she holds a .373 hitting percentage. She also holds a team-best 61 blocks. Lexi Erwin has a team-best 210 kills to average 3.23 per set. Molly Toon has 155 kills, while Tiffany Morales leads the team in digs (255). Setter Lexi Dannemiller ranks fourth in the league as she averages 10.53 assists per set.
Minnesota split competition against the Michigan State Spartans last year, as it won the home match, but fell in East Lansing, Mich. The Gophers won in five last year at the Sports Pavilion, but fell in four on the Spartans' home court. All-time, Minnesota is 48-17 against the Spartans.
Minnesota also split its action against the Wolverines last year. The Gophers defeated Michigan at home, 3-1 last year Oct. 3, 2012, but fell in Ann Arbor, Mich., in three. All-time, the Gophers are 51-15, dating back to 1975.