Minnesota volleyball Pregame notes

by Brian Deutsch

We’re about to get underway here at the Sports Pavilion for the first match of the conference season between Northwestern and Minnesota. The Gophers have been led by sophomore middle blocker Lauren Gibbemeyer’s strong play thus far this season, as she leads the team with 142 kills and 62 blocks. Northwestern’s strengths have also been at the middle blocker position, as sophomore Sabel Moffett and senior Chelsy Hyser both enter the match hitting over .300, and are the only two on the team hitting above .200. But the Wildcats do have a history of playing Minnesota tough, especially recently. Northwestern has won two of the last five matches, with three of those going to five sets. Former Minnesota defensive specialist Krista Chin is with us once again, to give us her take on the history. Daily: Based on your experiences from the past, what can you assume about tonight’s match verse Northwestern? Chin: To start things off, last season we had a tough loss on Northwestern’s home court. It was a loss that the entire team wanted to forget; however, it will always be remembered in the back of the upperclassman’s minds. When Northwestern came to the Pavilion, the Gophers had a different mindset during that week of practice, and the moment we stepped onto the court for warm-ups, it was apparent the mentality was completely different and we were not going to lose on our home court. Heading into tonight’s match, we can expect a scrappy defense from the Wildcats. Libero Kate Nobilio, is arguably one of the best, with our own Christine Tan, in the Big Ten. She is able to add energy on the court and increase the level of play from her front row players by making exceptional saves. Setter Elyse Glab has been a rising star in the Big Ten. She is definitely on course to be one of the best in the conference during the upcoming seasons. I had the privilege of playing with Glab during the club season, and it has been incredible to watch her mature as a setter. She has very good hands, and her work ethic is outstanding. Look to Chelsy Hyser, the Wildcats’ go-to hitter, to put some kills down and make a statement from the start. Hyser is a competitive player with a lot of fire. It will be interesting to see how her competitive nature matches up against Minnesota’s very own competitive leader, Lauren Gibbemeyer. Daily: Difference between nonconference and conference matches? Chin: After a disappointing loss to North Carolina during the nonconference season, it is important for the Gophers to put things together and show what they have worked on since this loss. Nonconference matches give a team a chance to utilize their entire bench and work with different line-ups. No team can overlook anyone during the nonconference season, especially when you play high caliber teams like Hawaii, Cal, and Cal Poly. Nonconference matches are always crucial for the postseason, as the NCAA looks at the competition level throughout the season. Heading into the conference season, the Gophers will look for leaders of the team to emerge and get this team on the right track for a Big Ten Championship. STARTING LINEUP: DS:Hailey Cowles MB:Lauren Gibbemeyer OH:Brook Dieter MB:Kelly Schmidt S:Rachel Hartmann OH:Pamela Luiz L:Christine Tan