Nov. 11, 2011
GOPHERS HOST WOLVERINES ON SUNDAY
The No. 16 University of Minnesota volleyball program hosts No. 24 Michigan on Sunday at the Sports Pavilion. The Gophers and Wolverines battle at 1 p.m.
ON THE DOCKET
Minnesota will compete in two road conference matches next week. The Golden Gophers travel to Nebraska on Nov. 16 for their second Wednesday night match. The showdown against the Cornhuskers starts at 7 p.m. and will be shown live on the Big Ten Network. On Saturday, Nov. 19, the Gophers then go to Iowa City, Iowa and play the Hawkeyes a 7 p.m.
Fans that can't make it to the match against Michigan, Gopher All-Access is your place to be to watch all the action. You can join Gopher All-Access for $9.95 per month or $79.95 per year. Also, this winter you can watch several Gopher men's basketball and women's basketball games, along with select Gopher men's hockey, women's hockey and wrestling events. Gopher All-Access is also part of the Big Ten Digital Network. If you upgrade to the Big Ten package, you can access hundreds of live events featuring all 12 conference schools. Wednesday's match will not be made available on BTN.com or Gopher All-Access because of television.
NCAA SELECTION SHOW/NCAA REGIONALS
With three weeks remaining in the regular season, all teams will be awaiting to hear if it is a part of the second season. The NCAA field of 64 for the 2011 DI women's volleyball tournament will be announced at 5 p.m. CT Nov. 27 on ESPNU.
The University of Minnesota will also be hosting one of the NCAA Regionals. The NCAA has announced the start times for Minnesota's regionals. On Friday, Dec. 9, the NCAA Regional Semifinals will be held a 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., both on ESPN 3. On Saturday, Dec. 10, the Regional Final will be held at 8:30 p.m. and will be shown on ESPN U. Tickets are now on sale for the NCAA Regional. All session reserved chair back is $25. all session adult general admission is $20, while all session student/youth/senior general admission is $15. Single session tickets will go on sale the week of the tournament. Fans can purchase tickets through mygophersports.com or by calling the Gopher ticket office at 1-800 UGOPHER or 612-624-8080.
WITTMAN RECEIVES WEEKLY BIG TEN HONORS
Sophomore outside hitter Ashley Wittman has been named the Co-Big Ten Player of the Week, announced Monday by the Big Ten Conference. She shares the award with Purdue sophomore Ariel Turner. It marks the second time this season Wittman has been awarded the honor and the third weekly conference honor for the Gophers this season. Although the Gophers fell to No. 6 Penn State, Wittman posted a career-high 31 kills on Friday night. Of the 31, 12 kills came in the fourth set, forcing a deciding fifth set. She also had the match's second-highest 19 digs. In the loss, she led all attackers in kills and hit .393 with 61 attempts. She followed up with 21 kills in the win against Ohio State Saturday, again for a match high mark. The Shakopee, Minn., native also added her 14th double double of the season when she had 12 digs. On the weekend, Wittman hit .352, had 52 kills in 108 attempts, four assists, three aces and 31 digs.
EARLIER THIS WEEK
The No. 16 University of Minnesota volleyball team earned a 3-0 win over Michigan State, Wednesday night at the Sports Pavilion. With the win, the Golden Gophers improve to 15-9 on the season and 8-7 in the Big Ten Conference. Michigan State dropped to 18-9 and 7-8 in the conference standings. Minnesota has one its last three of four and two-straight.
The Maroon and Gold were led by Ashley Wittman as she had 11 kills and 11 digs for her 15th double double of the season. Katherine Harms also reached double digit mark when she had 10 kills, while Hailey Cowles had seven kills and a match-high 17 digs. Kellie McNeil had a match-high 35 assists and a career-high four aces.
SET IT UP
Freshman Kellie McNeil has now started five-straight matches, dating back to the Northwestern loss on Oct. 28, 2011. Since then, the Gophers have gone 3-2, including a win over Illinois (10/29) and a five-set thriller against Penn State (11/4) where she had a career-high 61 assists. On the season, McNeil has tallied 238 assists, 38 digs and 14 block assists. Seeing action in 24 sets, McNeil has played at both the setter and outside hitter, a position she played earlier this year.
The Golden Gophers have had their fair share of three and five-set matches this season. Minnesota enters the weekend playing in 23 matches this season, 10 of which have gone to five sets. The Gophers hold a 5-5 record in five-set matches, are 8-3 in three-set matches and 2-1 in four-set matches. The 10 five-set contests ranks the highest in the Big Ten, while the next closest are Illinois and Nebraska each with six. The Illini holds a 6-0 record and Nebraska is at 5-1. Minnesota has also played in 10 three-set matches this season, including two weeks ago against Northwestern (loss) and Illinois (win).
GOING THE DISTANCE
The Gophers enter the week playing in 10 five-set matches. Along with it being the most five-set matches in the Big Ten this season, it also ranks high in the Gopher history section. Minnesota played in 11 five-set matches in 1985. The 10 this season is the most since 1989, which also was 10 as well as 10 in 1987.
SERVING IT UP
In the last four matches, the Golden Gophers have recorded 25 aces. After tallying three against Northwestern (10/28), Minnesota tied a then-season high seven aces in the win against Illinois (10/29) and followed up with another eight in the Penn State contest (11/4), setting a season-best mark. In the wins over Ohio State (11/5) and Michigan State (11/9), the Gophers added another five aces. Of the 25 aces in that span, Tori Dixon has tallied nine of them, followed by Hailey Cowles with five and Ashley Wittman and Kellie McNeil with four.
The Michigan Wolverines enter the weekend with a 17-9 overall record and a 5-9 mark within Big Ten Conference play. Michigan, ranked No. 24 in the latest AVCA poll, fell to No. 2 Nebraska on Nov. 4 and won against Iowa on Nov. 5 in its last action. The Wolverines, who are second in the Big Ten in kills per set, feature five players who have recorded at least 180 kills this season, led by Alex Hunt's 311. Lexi Erwin (310), Courtney Fletcher (236), Claire McElheny (233) and Jennifer Cross (189) round out that group. Like Minnesota, Michigan's setter is also a freshman, Lexi Dannemiller, who has played in 54 sets and averages 11.41 assists per set.
Minnesota is 49-13 all time against Michigan, but will look for its first road win in Ann Arbor since 2005 this weekend. Minnesota has one the last 13 times against Michigan at home, dating back to Sept. 26, 1997.
WE MEET AGAIN
Trailing two sets to zero, Minnesota came back to win, 3-2 over the then-No. 18 Michigan Wolverines, on Oct. 7, in Ann Arbor, Mich. The win marked the first time since 2005 the Golden Gophers defeated Michigan on its home court. Minnesota won the match by scores of 22-25, 18-25, 25-23, 25-19 and 15-10. Minnesota had three in double digit kills in Ashley Wittman (20), Katherine Harms (19) and Tori Dixon (17). Mia Tabberson had 56 assists, while Jessica Granquist had a match-high 22 digs. The Golden Gophers outblocked Michigan by a 15.5 to 5.0 ratio en route to a win.