Nov. 23, 2011
GOPHERS CLOSE OUT REGULAR SEASON AT HOME
The No. 19 University of Minnesota volleyball program closes out the regular season this weekend, hosting Wisconsin on Wednesday and Indiana on Friday. Both matches are a 7 p.m. The Gophers will honor the volleyball parents on Wednesday and their seniors: Hailey Cowles, Ariana Filho and Jessica Granquist on Friday.
FOLLOW THE GOPHERS
Fans that can't make it to the match against Wisconsin, Gopher All-Access/BTN.com 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. Gophersports.com will also have free audio available as well as a live in-game chat.
NCAA SELECTION SHOW/NCAA REGIONALS
As the regular season winds down this weekend, 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.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
Conference action closes this weekend as the Gophers enter the week sixth in the Big Ten standings, but have the potential of finishing fifth. A full split of Wednesday and Friday/Saturday action is underway this week. The Gophers will look to see where they fall in the final conference standings and will be keeping close eye on the outcomes of Michigan State (enters the week fifth in the conference), Ohio State and Wisconsin matches (tied for seventh).
Jessica Granquist has established 15 match-highs in digs this season. Granquist had six matches in non-conference action where she had a match-high digs and eight in Big Ten play. Last weekend against Nebraska and Iowa, she held both the match highs in each of those contests as well. Against the Cornhuskers, she dug out 25, a season second-best. Her season best was against Northern Iowa where she had 34. She then had another 24 against Iowa last Saturday.
DOUBLE OR NOTHING
Ashley Wittman has established 17 double doubles this season. She's on pace to tie her career mark of 18 set as a rookie last year. Wittman had a career-best 31 kills and also had 19 digs in the five-set loss to Penn State (11/4). Her career mark for digs in a game also came this season when she had 23 against Wisconsin (10/19). Also holding double doubles this season are Hailey Cowles (2), Mia Tabberson (6), Katherine Harms (4) and Kellie McNeil (1).
The Wisconsin Badgers enter the week with a 16-14 overall record and an 8-10 mark against conference opponents. Wisconsin defeated Iowa in three sets before falling to No. 4 Nebraska in four. The Badgers have seven players that have racked up over triple-digit kills. Ellen Chapman leads the team with 288 (2.77 kills per set), while Alexis Mitchell has 241, followed by Courtney Thomas (216), Dominique Thompson (171), Crystal Graff (166), Janelle Gabrielsen (133) and Bailey Reshel (110). Annemarie Hickey has a team-high 520 digs, while Thomas (630) and Gabrielsen (628) have the most assists.
Minnesota is 42-26 all-time against Wisconsin, dating back to 1975. The Golden Gophers have won the last seven contests between the two schools, however, the last time the Gophers went to five sets (22-25, 25-23, 25-18, 21-25, 15-10) against the Badgers in October.
THE LAST TIME
On Oct. 19, the Gophers earned a five-set road win over Wisconsin, in Madison. Minnesota had four athletes with double-digit kills in Ashley Wittman (21), Tori Dixon (15), Ariana Filho (14) and Katherine Harms (13). With the Gophers trailing, 7-9 in the fifth set, Wittman added five kills, including the final two points to lead the Gophers to the win. Filho hit .433, while Dixon had a .306 hitting percentage. Mia Tabberson had 61 assists in 171 attempts as well as 14 digs. Jessica Granquist and Wittman each had 23 digs, Hailey Cowles had 11 and Harms had 10. Filho also led the Gophers in blocks with three.
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 seven matches, the Golden Gophers have recorded 43 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, while posting six against Iowa (11/19). Of the 43 aces in that span, Tori Dixon has 11, while Kellie McNeil has tallied 10.
GOPHERS AND THE NCAA RPI
Minnesota is 10th overall in the Division I RPI. Illinois ranks first with a 25-4 record, while Iowa State is ranked second (22-4), followed by Nebraska in third (23-3) overall mark. in third. Texas is fourth (20-4), Purdue is fifth (25-4) and Northern Iowa is sixth (30-1). Of the top six teams in the RPI standings, Minnesota has faced five of them. UNI's only loss this season was to Minnesota on Sept. 10.
Along with Illinois, Nebraska, Purdue and Minnesota, the Big Ten Conference has a total of five ranked in the top 25 RPI. Penn State is ranked 11th, while Michigan is 23rd, Michigan State 29th, Ohio State 49th and Wisconsin 53rd.
GOPHERS RANKED 19TH IN AVCA POLL
The University of Minnesota volleyball program ranks 19th in the AVCA Top 25 poll, announced Nov. 14 by the American Volleyball Coaches Association. The Gophers have now been ranked in the AVCA Top 25 for 62 straight weeks dating back to the final poll in 2007. That extends Minnesota's record-breaking streak of consecutive weeks in the top 25.
Minnesota is joined by six Big Ten teams, including three in the top 10. Nebraska holds the Big Ten's highest ranking at No. 2, while Illinois is seventh, Purdue at eight and Penn State is ninth. Following behind Minnesota's No. 19 ranking is Michigan (22). Ohio State and Michigan State are receiving votes.
McLean Playing with USA's CNT Program
Sophomore outside hitter Brittany McLean will play with USA Volleyball's Collegiate National Team, June 28-30.
A Pair of Former Gophers Earn Medals
Two former University of Minnesota volleyball players gained medals at the 2017 Pan American Cup yesterday, in Canete, Peru.
Gophers in the Pros: Nicole Branagh
Gophersports.com checked in with Gopher hall of famer and United States Olympian, Nicole Branagh.