The 20th-ranked Minnesota volleyball team returns home from a stretch that saw them play 12 of their past 14 matches on the road. Minnesota will host Illinois on Friday, Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. and Wisconsin at Williams Arena on Sunday, Oct. 24 at 1 p.m.
The Minnesota-Illinois match can be seen live on ESPN3.com and on tape-delay on ESPN2 on Sunday, Oct. 24 at 12 p.m. Minnesota's match against Wisconsin can also be seen live on the BigTenNetwork.com.
During the Minnesota-Wisconsin match at Williams Arena on Sunday, Oct. 24, fans will be able to donate to "Dig Pink" as they enter the arena. All proceeds will go to the fight against Breast Cancer. There will also be a "Battle in the Barn" special where tickets will be $1 for general admisson. University of Minnesota faculty and staff will also receive free admission by showing their U-Cards at the door. Fans who bring their ticket stubs from football game will also receive free general admission.
It will also be High School Day and there will be free admission for all Minnesota and Wisconsin high school teams. To be part of this send in your roster to Erika at email@example.com. Along with High School Day, it will also be Volleyball Camper Day. There will be free admission for all campers who attended the University of Minnesota Volleyball camps. Contact Amanda at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Minnesota enters this week ranked No. 20 in the AVCA Top 25, is tied for fifth in the Big Ten at 4-4 and has a 14-6 overall record. Tabi Love has 3.76 kps, 1.97 dps and 0.58 blps. Love is currently fifth in the Big Ten kills and points per set. Ashley Wittman is averaging 3.51 kps, 3.23 dps and 0.72 blps. Wittman is fifth in the nation among freshmen in points and ninth in kills. She is also seventh in the Big Ten points and eighth in kills.
Junior Jessica Granquist leads the Big Ten in digs with 5.14 dps. Senior Lauren Gibbemeyer also returned last week after missing 12 matches, and enters the week averaging 2.96 kps, 1.23 blps and is hitting .361. Mia Tabberson has 10.31 aps, while Stephanie Nucci has 10.38. Nucci is sixth in the conference, while Tabberson is eighth.
The Golden Gophers also enter the week as the only team in the Big Ten to be in the top five in hitting percentage (3rd at .277), assists (third at 13.04 aps), blocks (third at 2.76 blps),opponent hitting percentage (fourth at .157) and kills (third at 14.03 kps). Minnesota is the only team in the conference to be in the top five in five of the six categories listed (hitting percentage, assists, blocks, opponent hitting pct., kills and service aces).
Illinois enters the week ranked No. 6 in this week’s AVCA Top 25, is tied for first in the Big Ten at 7-1 and has a 15-3 overall record. The Illini defeated Purdue and Indiana in four sets at home last week. Illinois has won eight of their last nine matches dating back to Sept. 18. The only loss in that stretch came at Michigan on Oct. 9.
The Illini are led by Colleen Ward who has 3.90 kps and 2.56 dps. Laura DeBruler was averaging 4.02 kps and 3.39 dps, but is out for the year with an ACL injury. Michelle Bartsch is averaging 3.41 kps, 1.96 dps and 0.88 blps. Johannah Bangert leads the team with 1.23 blps and has 1.77 kps. Setter Hillary Haen has 12.00 aps and 2.04 dps, while Jennifer Bonilla leads the team with 5.01 dps.
Illinois leads the all-time series 35-26-1. Last year, the teams split the two matches, each winning at home. Minnesota has gone 19-9 against the Illini since Mike Hebert came from Illinois to coach the Golden Gophers. Hebert’s current assistant coach Laura Bush was part of two Illini teams that reached the Final Four and was a Second-Team All-American in 1989. Illinois is coached by Kevin Hambly who is 41-9 in his second year with the program.
Wisconsin enters the week with a 12-7 overall record and is tied for 10th place in the Big Ten at 1-7. The Badgers lost in three sets to Indiana at home, but bounced back to win in four sets against Purdue on Oct. 17. Wisconsin started the season 11-0, lost seven straight to start conference play and bounced back to defeated Purdue.
The Badgers are led by Elise Walch who is averaging 2.97 kps, while Allison Wack has 2.70 kps and 1.78 dps. Dominique Thompson leads the team with 0.86 blps, while Kim Kuzma has a team-best 4.82 dps. Janelle Gabrielsen has 10.32 aps, 3.27 dps and 1.21 kps. Wisconsin is coached by Pete Waite who is 268-107 in his 12th season with the program. Former Golden Gopher assistant coach Brian Heffernan is also on the staff for the Badgers. Heffernan was the associate head coach for the Gophers when they made their first Final Four in 2003.