The Minnesota volleyball team will finish its four-match road stretch as it heads to No. 14 Michigan and Michigan State this week. The Golden Gophers will face the Wolverines on Friday, Nov. 20 at 6 p.m. (CT), and will travel to East Lansing to face Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. (CT).
Minnesota’s match with Michigan State can be seen on the Big Ten Network on a tape-delayed basis on Sunday, Nov. 22 at 8 p.m. Both matches can heard live in the Gold Zone.
The Golden Gophers, who are 21-7 overall and ranked No. 12, enter the ninth week of Big Ten play in third place in the conference at 12-4. Minnesota trails Illinois for second place in the conference by one match and leads Michigan by one and half matches. The Golden Gophers have finished second or higher in the Big Ten in seven of the last 10 seasons, and have finished third or higher in nine of those 10 years. Minnesota is one of only two programs in the conference to finish third or higher that many times in the last 10 seasons. Penn State has finished in the top three the last 10 years, followed by the Golden Gophers at nine, Wisconsin at eight and Ohio State and Illinois at two.
Minnesota is led by junior middle blocker Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minn.) who is one of only two players in the nation to be in the top 15 in hitting percentage (.413) and blocks (1.42 blps). Gibbemeyer, who also averages 3.15 kps, had a career-high 12 blocks against Wisconsin on Nov. 15. The 12 blocks were tied for the fourth-highest single-match total in school history.
Freshman Tabitha Love (Dauphin, Manitoba) is averaging 2.34 kps and 0.51 blps. Against Iowa, Love hit .500 and collected 15 kills. Hailey Cowles averaged 3.67 kps and 3.17 dps in a pair of matches against Indiana (Nov. 6) and Purdue (Nov. 8). She also had a career-best four service aces against Iowa on Nov. 13.
Senior setter Taylor Carico is second in the Big Ten in assists in conference play, and enters the weekend averaging 10.30 aps, 2.43 dps, 0.91 kps and 0.65 blps. Carico is only 67 assists from reaching 5,000 for her career. Senior libero Christine Tan (Safety Harbor, Fla.) is also averaging 3.74 dps.
Michigan enters the weekend ranked No. 14 is in fourth place in the Big Ten at 11-6, The Wolverines have won four straight matches, and are coming off a five-set victory at home over Michigan State on Nov. 19. Last week, Michigan won a pair of five-set matches at home against Indiana and Purdue.
The Wolverines are 5-1 in five-set matches this year, with their only loss coming to No. 1 Penn State. Michigan is led by Juliana Paz who has 3.65 kps and 2.31 dps. Alex Hunt is also averaging 3.35 kps and 2.15 dps. Veronica Rood leads the team in blocks with 77 (0.70 blps) and has 2.37 kps. Setter Lexi Zimmerman has 10.89 aps, 1.36 kps and 2.39 dps, while Sloan Donhoff has 4.05 dps. Michigan is coached by Mark Rosen who is 212-139 in his 11th season with the program.
The Golden Gophers lead the all-time series 48-11 over Michigan, including a three-set victory at Williams Arena on Saturday, Oct. 24. In that match, Tabitha Love hit .455 and had 19 kills, while Megan Wilson finished with 10 kills, 14 digs and seven blocks. Ariana Filho also hit .500 with 13 kills and six blocks. Despite the fact that the Golden Gophers lead the series 48-11, they have lost the last three matches at Ann Arbor. Their last win at Michigan came on Sept. 29, 2006.
Michigan State is in eighth place in the conference at 5-11 and has a 17-12 overall record. The Spartans lost in five sets to No. 14 Michgian on Nov. 18. Last week, Michigan State lost to Indiana in five sets and defeated Purdue in three sets. The Spartans have lost four of its last five matches, after it had on two in a row the previous weekend.
The Spartans are led by Megan Schatzle who has 3.02 kps. Becca Zlabis has 2.89 kps and 2.47 dps, while Kyndra Abron has 2.47 kps and 0.73 blps. Vanessa King leads the team in blocks wioth 1.06 blps and 1.68 kps. Setter Natalie Emro has 10.60 dps, 1.33 dps, 1.18 kps and 0.61 blps, while Allyson Karaba leads the team with 4.12 dps.
Michigan State is coached by Cathy George who is 84-72 in her fifth season with the program. Minnesota leads the all-time series 42-16 against the Spartans. The Golden Gophers defeated Michigan State in five sets at the Sports Pavilion on Oct. 23. In that match, Tabitha Love had 18 kills, while Lauren Gibbemeyer finished with 12 kills, five digs and four blocks.