Wisconsin gets pick of litter in freshman outside hitter

by Sarah Mitchell

This season, freshman volleyball players have made an impact on the Big Ten.
The 25th-ranked Gophers have vital first-year players such as setter Lindsey Berg and outside hitter Yvonne Wichert. Iowa showcased outside hitter Sara Meyermann in its 0-3 loss to Minnesota on Saturday night. But after No. 8 ranked Wisconsin defeated the Gophers 3-1 on Friday, it became apparent Wisconsin might have the prize catch.
“It’s not hard to figure out that she is going to be a great college player,” Wisconsin coach John Cook said of Livingston, who drilled 10 kills against the Gophers on Saturday on her way to a .421 attack percentage.
Since recording zero kills and a negative hitting percentage in her first collegiate match, Livingston has been a major contributor to the Badgers’ success. The 6-foot-2 player from Simi Valley, Calif., is third on the team with 199 kills.
“When I first came I didn’t think I’d be playing at all despite what I was told,” Livingston said. “Physically I was okay, but mentally I knew I had to step it up in my game.”
After being sought after by many top programs — No. 1 Long Beach State, No. 2 Penn State and Minnesota to name a few — Livingston blessed Wisconsin with her talent. The international business major dismissed the other offers after meeting the coaching staff, experiencing the fan support and, most importantly, checking out the educational opportunities.
“I definitely made the right choice,” Livingston said.
Glaser melts for Gophers
A familiar Gophers face just barely made a court appearance this weekend. Sophomore middle blocker Erica Glaser was briefly substituted into the Wisconsin match while sporting her warm-ups the entire Iowa match.
Gophers coach Mike Hebert attributed Glaser’s lack of playing time to sophomore middle blocker Heather Baxter outshining her during practice.
“Erica just got beat out,” Hebert said. “Heather Baxter is playing better.”
Earlier in the season, Glaser set a Minnesota single-match record with a .917 hitting percentage in the Gophers’ Sept. 12 match against Missouri, breaking the previous record of .818 set by Jean Schintz in 1994.
The career milestone engraved Glaser’s name in the starting lineup. Despite the demotion, Hebert expects Glaser to be a factor in the team’s success.
Pass the ball
Each team that stepped into the Sports Pavilion this weekend left perplexed by the disappearance of its passing game.
At the weekend’s end, Minnesota had recorded 15 services aces — seven against Wisconsin and eight against Iowa. Berg led the Gophers from behind the service line, adding eight aces to her Big Ten lead of 41.
Iowa drilled three aces, leaving Wisconsin’s serving game as the most impressive. Thirteen services aces, four of which came from senior setter Colleen Neels, baffled the Gophers’ passing game.
“We were crisp at times and when we weren’t crisp we were sloppy, that’s the best word I can think of,” Hebert said. “There was no in between. It was all or nothing.”