Ranked 20th in the nation, Minnesota’s volleyball team will play host to the first two rounds of the 2003 NCAA tournament.
The Gophers (22-10) will begin the tournament with a contest against unranked University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (23-10) tonight.
“They are a very scrappy team,” Minnesota coach Mike Hebert said. “If they pass well and set up the middle (hitter) and the outsides, they will be able to freeze our blockers.”
Minnesota does not have an extensive history versus Green Bay. The Gophers hold a 3-0 career record against the Phoenix.
The last match played between the two teams was a five-game 30-20, 28-30, 30-21, 28-30, 15-13 match won by the Gophers.
“We were really pleased with the way our players handled that match,” Green Bay coach Debbie Kirch said. “We’re trying to stress the same type of attitude we played with in that match.”
This year’s Horizon League champion Phoenix hope to put the clamps on Minnesota.
“A big difference between the Horizon and the Big Ten is size,” Kirch said. “We know we’ll be going up against a big block and so we plan to key on that.”
Leading the way in kills for Green Bay is senior outside hitter Janelle Tomlinson. The 6-foot-1-inch attack player knocked down 614 kills this season.
Phoenix setter Leslie Kuhn is the individual assist leader in her conference – the 5-foot-11-inch junior has dished out 1,681 assists this season.
The Gophers – who have a 5-0 NCAA tournament record at the Sports Pavilion – are led by junior Lindsey Taatjes’ 1,402 assists.
The 5-foot-10-inch setter is Minnesota’s single-season record holder in assists with 1,734 assists in 2002.
Taatjes’ teammate, All-American Cassie Busse, leads Minnesota in kills (523) and hitting percentage (.299).
Defensively, leading the Gophers in blocks is 6-foot-3-inch freshman Meredith Nelson.
With her Big Ten-leading 137 blocks, the St. Croix Falls, Wis., native earned Big Ten All-Freshman honors.
As a team, the Gophers accumulated 327 blocks – ranking third in the Big Ten.