U’s hitting percentage a focal point

Jeff Barthel

In baseball, there are batting averages. Similarly, in volleyball there is a statistic called hitting percentage.

In volleyball, hitting percentage is determined by the amount of kills minus the amount of errors, over the amount of total attempts by a given player.

Simple, right?

Minnesota volleyball coach Mike Hebert has said a main concern of his team is the amount of hitting errors his team is committing.

Though the Minnesota volleyball team has won seven of its last eight matches, the squad still has some work to do.

“We need to improve our focus and our mental ability,” junior setter Lindsey Taatjes said.

Much of this might be due to the lack of productivity from the team’s middle blocking position.

Hebert said his team is definitely having trouble in this department and it’s difficult to cope with the losses of two middle blockers from last season. But he’s more concerned about the occurrence of too many errors.

“Hitting into the net, getting blocks straight down and hitting out,” Hebert said. “That is where we struggle.”

Last year the Gophers finished with a hitting percentage of 0.254. This season the team is currently registering in at a 0.194 clip. However, there have been some outlaying factors.

“Number one, we’re not getting great numbers out of our middle blocking attack,” Hebert said. “Number two, we are playing consistently higher competition.”

The team’s middle blockers are struggling. The team’s only current middle blocker receiving playing time is freshman Meredith Nelson. She’s currently at a 0.188 pace in the hitting percentage department.

As far as Hebert’s competition remark, the team has currently played a total of five ranked opponents. Besides 10th-ranked Northern Iowa, the Gophers have had matches against No. 2 Hawaii, No. 3 Florida, No. 8 UCLA and No. 19 Louisville.

Hebert and Minnesota volleyball will try to improve on their hitting woes this weekend as they begin Big Ten play against Indiana and Purdue.

Two Gophers are honored

Saturday, before a home match against Wisconsin-Milwaukee, captains Cassie Busse and Lindsey Taatjes received specially designed volleyballs for their recent achievements.

With 18 kills against Northern Iowa last Wednesday, Busse became the 14th Gopher in Minnesota history to record 1,000 career kills.

Taatjes was honored for a record she attained last season. In 2002, she became the all-time single season record holder in assists, amassing 1,734.

New faces, new places

Hebert was happy to be able to try some new things when the Gophers defeated Charlotte (5-9) in three straight sets last Saturday.

The team’s starting lineup featured freshman Kelly Bowman’s first and a start at a new position for Marci Peniata, also a freshman.

Bowman, the younger sister of senior setter Jen Bowman, started at defensive specialist.

Peniata, who usually starts at defensive specialist, started at libero. The position is usually played by 2002 Big Ten Player of the Year Paula Gentil, but she sat out that match with a sprained shoulder.