Gophers Face Tough Road Opponents in Penn State and Ohio State

Go Gophers!
Captain Ashley Wittman and the Gophers will travel to Penn State, Ohio State this weekend.

Go Gophers!
Captain Ashley Wittman and the Gophers will travel to Penn State, Ohio State this weekend.
Go Gophers!
Logo   Minnesota at Penn State/Ohio State
Friday, Nov. 2 Minnesota at Penn State | 7 p.m.
Location University Park, Pa.
Television BTN
Live Stats Gametracker
Live Blog Game Day Live
   
Sunday, Nov. 4 Minnesota at Ohio State | 1 p.m.
Location Columbus, Ohio
Live Video Gopher All-Access
Live Stats Gametracker
Live Blog Game Day Live
   
Game Notes Minnesota | Penn State | Ohio State
Season Statistics Minnesota | Penn State | Ohio State
Social Media Facebook | @GopherVball

Oct. 31, 2012

MINNESOTA FACES RANKED PENN STATE/OHIO STATE ON THE ROAD
Minnesota will have a tough road weekend ahead of itself when it travels to No. 3 Penn State and No. 15 Ohio State this weekend. Friday, the Gophers head to Happy Valley and take on the Nittany Lions at 7 p.m. CT. The Gophers will then compete against the Buckeyes on Sunday, Nov. 4 at 1 p.m. CT. Minnesota is 35-34 all-time against the Buckeyes and Penn State is 36-9 against the Gophers.

FOLLOW THE GOPHERS
The Minnesota/Penn State match will be televised live on the Big Ten Network. BTN will have Mike Wolf as the play-by-play and Audrey Flaugh provide the color. Sunday’s match at Ohio State will have Gopher All-Access capability through gophersports.com. Both Gopher matches will also feature an in-game chat and live statistics on gophersports.com.

ON THE DOCKET
Minnesota 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.

HARMS RECEIVES THIRD WEEKLY LAURELS
For the third time this year, Katherine Harms has been named the Big Ten Conference’s Player of the Week, announced Monday by the league office. After sweeps against Northwestern and Illinois, Harms accepts the Gophers’ seventh weekly award this season. Harms led the Gophers in both straight set wins over the Wildcats and Illini. Against Northwestern, Harms hit an impressive .485 when she had 19 kills on 33 attempts in just three sets. Along with her 19 kills, she also had three aces, which tied a career high. On Sunday against Illinois, Harms again led the Gopher attack when she had 17 kills on 37 swings and hit .405. In three sets, she accomplished a double double with 17 kills and 12 digs. On the weekend, Harms averaged an impressive 6.00 kills per set and a .443 hitting clip with five service aces, 18 digs and five blocks. She ranks second in the Big Ten in kills per set (4.40) and third in points per set (5.04).

CONTINUED IMPROVEMENT
Katherine Harms continues to be one of the best attackers in the Big Ten this season. The senior opposite ranks second the Big Ten in kills (averaging 4.40 per set) and third in points (5.04 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 356 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 81 sets played and 23 matches, Harms has 203 digs. She currently sits at 911 kills (661 as a junior and senior), and 546 digs (380 of those in last two years).

TABBERSON, GOPHERS CLIP CANCER
More than 100 people affiliated with Gopher Athletics shaved their heads in Bierman Gym Monday to raise money and awareness for pediatric cancer research. Paired with St. Baldrick's Foundation and Great Clips, the Gophers had student-athletes from football, volleyball, hockey, baseball and the spirit squad participated as well as head football coach Jerry Kill and athletics support staff. Minnesota wide receiver Connor Cosgrove, who is battling leukemia, conceptualized the idea and immediately got his teammates to shave their heads for the cause. Senior setter Mia Tabberson of the volleyball team also shaved her head. In addition, assistant director to Student-Athlete Welfare Anissa Lightner, who works closely with Gopher student athletes in community relations and charitable giving, also shaved her head. At this point, Gopher Athletics has raised more than $25,000 toward pediatric cancer research. Tabberson and Lightner raised $12,000 on their own with help of the Gopher volleyball match on Sunday (10/28) as they collected donations at the doors and t-shirt sales.

ACES AWAY
Minnesota has a total of 141 aces this season, already tying last year’s 141 mark. In the both the Northwestern match last weekend, and the Wisconsin match (10/17), the Gophers had 10 aces, a single-match season high. In fact, the Gophers are on pace for their highest ace mark since 202 in 2006. Minnesota had 127 in 2007, 123 in 2008, 126 in 2009 and 108 in 2010. On the season, Minnesota ranks ninth in the nation in aces per set (1.74). Daly Santana is fourth in the nation in aps (0.54) with 44 aces, while Tori Dixon has 22 aces, Katherine Harms has 21 and Lindsey Lawmaster has 19.

ASSISTING THE OFFENSE
Gopher setter Alexandra Palmer has helped out the hitters to a .308 team hitting percentage. She ranks eighth in the conference in assists, playing in 80 sets and averages 9.77 assists per set. On the season, Minnesota has now hit over .300 in 13 matches this season and five over .400. Along with her set up ability, Palmer has 137 digs and 11 aces in the 80 sets.

SWING AWAY
Minnesota has hit well as a team this season. The Gophers rank fifth in the nation in hitting percentage (.308). In 23 matches this year, the Golden Gophers have hit .500 in two matches (LIU Brooklyn, Miami), three at .400  (Appalachian State, Albany and Northwestern) and nine at .300 (James Madison, Texas, Dayton, Tulsa, Illinois (twice), Northwestern, Ohio State and Michigan). The Gophers are hitting their highest percentage in the past five years. Minnesota hit .259 in 2010 and .233 as a team last season. In fact, the Gophers’ highest came at .275 in 2001. Individually, Tori Dixon ranks first in the Big Ten and third in the nation as she has hit .443 in 23 matches. In her opening match this season, Dixon had 14 kills in 16 attempts for a career-best .875 against James Madison. Katherine Harms also ranks high with a .337 hitting percentage and held a career-best .680 when she had 18 kills on 25 attempts with just one error against LIU Brooklyn. In the same match, Ashley Wittman hit a career-best .824.

ABOUT THE NITTANY LIONS
Penn State enters the weekend with a 21-2 overall record and an 11-1 mark in Big Ten play. The Nittany Lions suffered their first loss of the conference season in their last match, a five-set loss to Nebraska (10/28). Prior to the loss to the Cornhuskers in Lincoln, Neb., PSU held a 15-match win streak. Its only other loss came to Oregon State early September. Penn State holds a team hitting percentage of .302, leads the Big Ten in blocking (2.99 blocks per set) and has held its opponent to a .136 clip. Ariel Scott leads the Nittany Lions with 3.63 kills per set, while Katie Slay holds a .434 hitting percentage and averages 1.41 blocks per set. Micha Hancock ranks 10th in the nation in assists (11.61 per set) as well as sixth in aces (0.50). Returning All-American Deja McClendon has 270 kills this season, while  Dominique Gonzalez is the starting libero with 3.59 digs per set.

ABOUT THE BUCKEYES
Ohio State holds a 17-7 overall record as well as 8-4 in the Big Ten Conference. Moving up from No. 20 to No. 15 in the recent AVCA poll, the Buckeyes are coming off wins at Nebraska and Iowa. Ohio State Big Ten losses came to Penn State (10/17), Purdue (10/13), Minnesota (9/28) and Nebraska (9/22). Mari Hole leads the team in kills (365), kills per set (4.06) and points (4.53) and is second in digs (227). Her kills per set and points per set places her fifth in the conference. Emily Danks averages 2.84 kills per set and holds a .250 hitting percentage. Mariah Booth owns the team’s best hitting percentage at .316, while Andrea Kacsits averages 0.84 blocks per set. Libero Davionna DiSalvatore ranks sixth in the Big Ten in digs per set (3.85), while setter Amanda Peterson is 10th in assists per set (8.71).

THE LAST TIME
Minnesota won in three and lost in three the last time it faced these two teams in September. Minnesota defeated Ohio State 25-23, 25-23 and 25-22 at the Sports Pavilion on Sept. 28. Minnesota was led by Katherine Harms and Daly Santana as they each had 14 kills. The 14 kills by Santana tied a career high for the rookie. Tori Dixon had seven kills, while Alexandra Palmer had a match-high 37 assists. Lindsey Lawmaster added a match-high 11 digs. Minnesota hit .309 to OSU's .221 and edged the Buckeyes in kills, 42-37.

The Gophers then fell to then-No. 1 Penn State, 25-23, 25-8, 25-20 on Sept. 29 at the Sports Pavilion. The Gophers were again led by Harms, who had a team-high 13 kills and two aces, followed by Dixon with seven kills in 15 attempts. Palmer led the team with 12 digs and 26 assists. A balanced attack from PSU, the Nittany Lions had three with nine kills (Ariel Scott, Katie Slay and Deja McClendon), Nia Grant had eight, while Micha Hancock had 35 assists.