Nov. 1, 2011
GameDay Information located here.
The No. 15 University of Minnesota volleyball program hosts No. 6 Penn State on Friday and No. 22 Ohio State on Saturday at the Sports Pavilion. Friday’s match is live on Big Ten Network at 8 p.m., while the OSU match is at 7 p.m.
Minnesota has been on the road more than it has been at home so far this season, posting an 9-6 record away from Minnesota. The Gophers went 1-1 in the AVCA Showcase, 2-1 in the UNI Tourney, 2-0 in the Marquette Tournament and now 4-4 on the road against Big Ten opponents. Minnesota has had the least amount of home matches in the Big Ten to date. The Penn State match begins a lengthy home stretch for Minnesota, playing the next six of eight matches at the Sports Pavilion.
After dropping a three-set match at Northwestern (25-23, 25-23 and 25-21), Minnesota responded from the loss and defeated No. 3 Illinois in three sets (25-19, 25-20 and 25-15). With the win over Illinois, the Golden Gophers defeated their highest-ranked opponent ever as the Illini entered the match ranked third in the country. Minnesota was propelled by a season-best seven aces. The Gophers also outblocked the Illini, 9-8, and held them to a .087 hitting percentage. Ashley Wittman had 10 kills and a match-high 10 digs, while Hailey Cowles had seven kills and nine digs. Tori Dixon also led the team with four aces and a match-high six block assists. Kellie McNeil started for the second-straight night and had 31 assists.
With the win over Illinois, the Golden Gophers added a new mark in the history books. It was the first time in school history Minnesota defeated a top-three ranked team. Illinois, now sixth, entered last Saturday’s match at No. 3. Minnesota tied its previous school record when it defeated Texas on Sept. 2-3, ranked No. 4 at the time. Along with Texas, the previous bests were vs. Pepperdine, 12/12/03; vs. Florida, 9/11/04; at Penn State, 10/2/04), all ranked No. 4 at the time.
Ohio State took a one-game lead in the all-time series and holds a slight 34-33 lead over the Gophers. Minnesota’s last victory over the Buckeyes was at home on Nov. 26, 2010 in four sets, at the Sports Pavilion. Penn State has held the advantage in the all-time series against Minnesota at 35-9. However, the last time Minnesota hosted the defending national champions was on No. 27, 2010 where the Gophers had an epic match against the Nittany Lions. The win at the Sports Pavilion marked the first win against PSU since 2004. It also was the last loss PSU suffered, going on to win the national championship for the fourth-straight year.
The Nittany Lions come into the Minnesota match with a 17-5 overall record and a 10-2 mark in Big Ten play. Last weekend, PSU upset No. 1 Nebraska when it defeated the Cornhuskers in four sets at Rec Hall. In the win over Nebraska, Deja McClendon had a match-high 18 kills, while Ariel Scott was second on the team with 12. One of the Big Ten's most dangerous servers, Micha Hancock has 70 aces this season, including six against Nebraska. On the season, McClendon has 275 kills, while Scott has 263. Katie Slay and Nia Grant lead the charge in the middle as Slay averages 1.45 blocks per set and Grant averages 0.95 bps.
The Buckeyes enter the weekend with a 6-6 conference record and an overall mark of 16-9. Ranked No. 22 in the latest AVCA poll, OSU fell to Nebraska in four sets, while defeating Iowa in four sets. Mari Hole leads the Buckeyes, averaging 4.03 kills per set. Emily Danks ranks second on the team in kills (3.46 kps) and first in aces (44), while Kelli Barhorst leads the team with 1.04 blocks per set.
Since facing Minnesota, the Buckeyes have gone 4-5 in the conference. After defeating Minnesota, OSU fell to Wisconsin (10/2) and Illinois (10/7), won against Northwestern (10/8) and Indiana (10/14). They then lost to Purdue (10/15) and Penn State (10/19), while defeating Michigan State (10/22), falling to Nebraska (10/28) and winning against Iowa (10/30). Penn State has been on a tear since facing Minnesota, going 7-1 during that span. The Nittany Lions’ only loss came to Illinois on Oct. 8 in a five-set match. PSU defeated Purdue (10/14) in four, Indiana (10/15) in three, Ohio State (10/19) and Michigan (10/22) in three, Iowa (10/28) in four and Nebraska (10/29) in four since its last loss of the season.
Minnesota hosts its second-straight weekend when Michigan State and Michigan come to town. On Wednesday, Nov. 9, the Spartans visit the Sports Pavilion at 7 p.m. The Wolverines come to town on Sunday, Nov. 13th with an afternoon match at 1 p.m. Sunday's match is also Girl Scouts Day.