Minnesota volleyball vs Penn State Pregame

by Mark Heise

Mark Heise (5:49:41 PM): Happy birthday to my sister Jean, as we prepare for the biggest volleyball matchup to come to Minnesota this year. No. 1 Penn State will face off against No. 12 Minnesota in the battle of the unbeaten’s tonight. Krista Chin (5:50:18 PM): Happy Birthday Jean! TheAntiYanks35 (5:52:32 PM): Thanks for contributing, Krista. It is a crowded atmosphere as people continue to file in to the lower bowl of Williams Arena, the fan section already more than half-filled. Penn State is used to big atmospheres however, having played in and won the National Championship last year, on the backs of their two big outside hitters, Nicole Fawcett and Megan Hodge. Krista Chin (5:55:38 PM): Both Fawcett and Hodge are dynamic hitters, potentially making them the best pair of outside hitters in the country. They are both averaging 3.90 kills per set. Fawcett hits a very heavy ball with a wide range of shots, and Hodge has great jumping ability, making it easier for her to hit over virtually any opponent. It will be interesting to see how and if Minnesota switches up their blocking, possibly brining Kyla Roehrig over to play the dynamic duo. Mark Heise (5:59:03 PM): The Gophers will be trying something different, as both Nittany Lion hitters ate up the right side block at Penn State last season. But aside from the two giants, Minnesota will also have to watch for middle blocker Christa Harmotto. Harmotto took advantage of Minnesota only committing one blocker to her last season, devastating the Gophers on the road. Minnesota is a different team this year, however, and have been playing extremely well thus far. One thing we may see more of tonight is some back row attacks from Brook Dieter, who took a few extra swings from the back row during warmups today. What else can we expect from the Gophers’ side, Krista? Krista Chin (6:04:30 PM): Again, we may be able to look for Kyla Roehrig doing some switch blocking in the front row with Pamela Luiz. Brook Dieter may be a huge factor hitting out of the back row, as well DS Hailey Cowles. Those two are able to mix up their shots and create chaos on the other side of the net. It would be nice to see setter Rachel Hartmann make more attacking attempts to throw off the defense a bit as she hasn’t made too many throughout the season. We’re ready to play, it’s time to see if Minnesota can force the team coach Mike Hebert called “maybe the best ever assembled” to lose its first set of the season. Starting Lineup: DS: Hailey Cowles MB: Lauren Gibbemeyer OH: Brook Dieter MB: Kelly Schmidt S: Rachel Hartmann OH: Pamela Luiz L: Christine Tan