Minnesota volleyball vs. Iowa pregame notes

Mark Heise

Mark Heise (6:38:25 PM): The Big Ten Network is visiting Minnesota once again as the Gophers prepare to face Iowa in their first mid-week match of the season. Minnesota is looking to get the Penn State loss out of its mind, while the Hawkeyes are looking for their second consecutive win, and an above .500 record. Perhaps most importantly, Krista Chin will be taking on a larger role in the blogging tonight, as I will have to write my story for tomorrow as well. Krista, are you up to the challenge? Krista Chin (6:39:09 PM): Mark…I was born ready Mark Heise (6:41:06 PM): That’s confidence right there. Iowa is not the same team they have been in the past, as new head coach Sharon Dingman has already led the Hawkeyes to three times the number of conference wins last season. How surprising has this team been so far this season? Krista Chin (6:43:17 PM): This team has been one of the most surprising teams so far this season. Coach Sharon Dingman has done a number with this team, coaching them to be more efficient on both sides of the ball. Perhaps the biggest surprise was the three set sweep of Wisconsin. They were hitting the ball well and doing a good job of shutting down the Badgers’ offense, taking go-to hitter Brittney Dolgner out of her rhythm. Mark Heise (6:48:23 PM): Perhaps most surprisingly, Iowa has done it without any one standout hitter, putting together a balanced attack against Big Ten Competition. On the other side of the net, the Gophers are looking to forget the Penn State loss Saturday. Minnesota is expected to go with a slightly different look, resting Kyla Roehrig and giving Katie Vatterrodt the start on the left side. Krista, you’ve seen what Vatterrodt can do when she’s feeling it on the court, as you witnessed her 17-kill match against Nebraska two years ago. What does she bring to the table? Krista Chin (6:51:10 PM): Katie is a veteran on this team, and you can’t go wrong with a player who has been to the elite eight and had one of the best matches of her career against top-ranked Nebraska. Katie is a versatile player who brings a high volleyball IQ to the court. When she’s feeling it on the court, she is a solid passer and has good vision to put the ball where a defender is not. Katie hits a hard, deep ball that comes at you with a lot of velocity, making it a harder to defend. TheAntiYanks35 (6:53:48 PM): with just a little time left before lineups, we have a question of the day to answer. Tonight’s question comes from Steve from Worcester, MA. Remember, you can ask a question by simply emailing us at [email protected], subject line “Question of the Day.” “Over the past decade the Gophers volleyball team has had a consistent record of finding their way into the NCAA post season bracket, most notable amongst these their 2004 NCAA title game appearance and their survival to the elite eight in 2006. Recently though, their performance has started to falter, as their elimination in the not-so-elite sixty-four last season suggests. Nevertheless, do the 2008 Gophers have a legitimate shot at returning to the NCAA title game, and why or why not?” And Krista, after seeing Penn State’s level of competition last weekend, I’d have to say it’s a definite long shot for this season. What do you think? Krista Chin (6:56:06 PM): Returning to the title game is a long shot, however, I would not count out a return to the Final Four or Elite Eight. This team has all the components that make up an elite-level team, and they have the determination and competitiveness to get them to that point. Penn State brings a variety of weapons that are difficult to match. In fact, I find it difficult for any of the top teams (Nebraska, Stanford, Texas) to match the competitive level the Nittany Lions are at. Mark Heise (6:58:48 PM): I would agree with that. Minnesota has proven to be able to play against top level teams, topping No. 4 California earlier this season. But Penn State brings a whole new level of competition into the gym, and are currently heavy favorites to repeat as National Champions. Mark Heise (6:59:33 PM): Two minutes left, Krista you noticed Jessica Granquist was getting a few extra reps in warmups, what does that mean for her? Krista Chin (7:00:34 PM): I think we can look for Granquist to play a larger role in the back row tonight, perhaps giving sophomore Hailey Cowles a rest. Granquist is a fiesty defensive player who has been a big asset to the team this year. Depending on how the Gophers do thorugh the first two sets, maybe we’ll get a chance to see some of the younger players in Ariana Filho and Ashley Suapaia. Starting Lineups: OH: Katie Vatterrodt MB: Lauren Gibbemeyer OH: Brook Dieter MB: Kelly Schmidt S: Rachel Hartmann OH: Pamela Luiz L: Christine Tan In game updates can once again be found here, as we’ll start a new blog and update it continually throughout the match.