Gophers Set to Open Second Half of Conference Season at Home
Freshman DS Kalysta White
Logo   Minnesota vs. Northwestern/Illinois
Friday, Oct. 26 Minnesota vs. Northwestern | 6:30 p.m.
Location Sports Pavilion
Live Video Gopher All-Access
Live Stats Gametracker
Sunday, Oct. 28 Minnesota vs. Illinois | Noon
Location Williams Arena
Live Video Gopher All-Access
Live Stats Gametracker
Game Notes Minnesota | Northwestern | Illinois
Season Statistics Minnesota | Northwestern | Illinois
Social Media Facebook | @GopherVball

Oct. 25, 2012

Minnesota opens the second half of the Big Ten schedule against Northwestern and Illinois this weekend. Minnesota hosts the Wildcats on Friday at the Sports Pavilion. The Gophers hold a 48-18 all-time mark against the Wildcats, including a four-set win in Evanston, Ill., a month ago. Minnesota hosts Illinois, Sunday, at Williams Arena. The Gophers hold an all-time mark of 30-38-1 against the Illini, dating back to 1976. Minnesota opened Big Ten Conference play earlier this year with a 3-0 win (25-17, 25-17, 25-23) over the Illini in Champaign, Ill.

The Gopher football and volleyball teams are pairing up to help raise awareness for pediatric cancer research. Mia Tabberson is trying to raise $10,000 in support of St. Baldrick's Foundation. Gopher Athletics will be collecting monetary donations at the door during the Illinois match. If she reaches her goal, she along with other student athletes and staff members will shave their heads on Monday, Oct. 29. Fans can also support the cause by donating at

For the second time this year, rookie Daly Santana has been named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week, announced Monday by the conference office. After a stellar performance against Wisconsin and No. 17 Purdue last week, Santana garners the Gophers' sixth weekly accolade this season. Santana had 18 kills, a team-high 29 digs and six service aces against Wisconsin and Purdue last week. Against the Badgers, Santana tied for a team-high nine kills and led the squad with 11 digs and four aces. She also was second on the team with 13.5 points. Against the Boilermakers, Santana led the team again with 18 digs and finished one shy of a double-double with nine kills. She also contributed two service aces in the win. She finished the weekend with averages of 2.57 kills and 4.14 digs per set. On the season, Santana ranks fourth on the team in kills with 174 (2.32 per set avg.), third on the team in digs with 191 (2.55 avg.) and a team-high 41 aces (0.55 avg.).

The Gophers will be on the road the next two weeks as they travel to Penn State/Ohio State next weekend. Minnesota then travels to Michigan State and Michigan, Nov. 9-10, before returning to the Sports Pavilion, Nov. 16-17. Nebraska comes to town on Nov. 16, followed by Iowa on Nov. 17. The Hawkeye match will also be senior day for Gophers Brianna Haugen, Katherine Harms, Dana Knudsen and Mia Tabberson.

The Big Ten Network has selected the Nov. 16 Minnesota match against Nebraska to be televised live on its network. Due to the television announcement, the match has been moved from 6:30 p.m., to 7 p.m. at the Sports Pavilion. With the addition of the Nov. 16 match, it marks the sixth time this season the Gophers will be televised live. The Gophers have had three matches already on Big Ten Network at Illinois (9/21) and home against Ohio State (9/28) and Michigan (10/3). Minnesota will travel to Penn State on Friday, Nov. 2, also on BTN at 7 p.m. CT, as well as the Nebraska match on Nov. 16. The Gophers were also on ESPN2 at Nebraska earlier this month.  

Minnesota has a total of 125 aces this season, just 16 shy of the 141 from last year's total. In the Wisconsin match last week, the Gophers had 10 aces, a season-high in a single match. On the season, Minnesota ranks ninth in the nation in aces.

Northwestern enters the Minnesota match with a 14-7 overall record and a 3-7 mark in Big Ten play. The Wildcats are coming off a conference split last weekend as it fell in five to Illinois and defeated Iowa at home in straight sets. The Wildcats are led by Stephanie Holthus, who averages 4.22 kills per set. Against the Gophers earlier this year, Holthus had a match-high 21 kills. Yewande Akanbi has 189 kills on the season, while Katie Dutchman has 185 and a team-high 76 total blocks (0.99 bps). As a team, Northwestern ranks second in the conference in digs (15.94 per set), primarily led by setter Madalyn Shalter (254 digs), libero Julie Chin (245) and Holthus (243).

Illinois enters the weekend with a 10-10 overall record and 4-6 in Big Ten play. Led primarily by Jocelynn Birks, the rookie outside hitter averages a team-best 4.09 kills per set. Sophomore Anna Dorn holds the best hitting percentage with a .415 clip, while Liz McMahon has 231 kills for a 2.82 average. Erin Johnson leads the Illini's blocking category as she averages 1.18 blocks per set, while libero Jennifer Beltran has a team-high 327 digs.  

The Gophers defeated the Northwestern Wildcats, 3-1 (17-25, 25-18, 25-21, 25-15) last month. Minnesota had three players with double-digit kills as Katherine Harms had 19, Ashley Wittman had 15 and Tori Dixon had 13. Dana Knudsen held the best Gopher hitting percentage when she capitalized for seven kills in 12 swings (.583). Minnesota led the match in kills (54), assists (57) and blocks (11.5).
Minnesota opened Big Ten Conference play with a 3-0 win over No. 20 Illinois, Sept. 21, at Huff Hall in Champaign, Ill. The Golden Gophers won by scores of 25-17, 25-17 and 25-23 to defeat the Illini for the second straight year on their home court. Katherine Harms paved the way for the Golden Gophers as she had a match-high 17 kills in 30 attempts (five errors) to hit .400 on the night. Tori Dixon had 11 kills (11-0-16) for a .688 hitting percentage. Ashley Wittman had eight kills. Harms had eight digs, while Lindsey Lawmaster had seven. Alexandra Palmer had a match-high 44 assists in the win.

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