Minnesota volleyball vs. Michigan State Pregame notes:

Mark Heise

Mark Heise (6:35:41 PM): Welcome back to the Minnesota volleyball pregame blog… before we start tonight, we do have some announcements for you. Tonight, replacing Krista Chin as my guest blogger, is Rochester’s KTTC weekend Sports Anchor and former Minnesota Daily sports editor C.J. Spang. CJ, I realize you’re used to the cushier TV job, but hopefully you can keep up tonight! CJ Spang (6:36:51 PM): Mark – you need to keep in mind who hired you at the Daily and show a little respect. I have been away from college volleyball for awhile but I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to handle it. Mark Heise (6:39:14 PM): Will do, thanks for the job, by the way. I hope I haven’t let you down too much! Tonight, Minnesota hosts Michigan State in the team’s first matchup of the year. Michigan State is comparible in attackers to Purdue, as the Spartans feature a strong middle blocker in Vanessa King. CJ Spang (6:40:48 PM): King will certainly be the player the Gophers need to shut down tonight. She leads Michigan state in kills this season with 189, as well hit percentage at .363 and blocks with 80. Mark Heise (6:45:36 PM): She has been the team’s leader, and a player coach Mike Hebert called “one of the most talented middle blockers in the conference. ” But Minnesota has also shown some talent in that position this season, with sophomore Lauren Gibbemeyer steadily leading the Gophers in most offensive categories all season, and senior Kelly Schmidt showing marked improvement, collecting a career-high 13 kills in the mid-week Iowa win. CJ Spang (6:49:17 PM): Well now you’re getting to my strengths here Mark. I used to cover the volleyball team back when Schmidt was a freshman. She didn’t get a chance to play much behind the likes of Meredith Nelson and Jessy Jones, but now it’s pretty clear, as she gets the chance to play, she’s making the most of it, and is proving herself as a very capable Big Ten player. Mark Heise (6:53:10 PM): I agree with that, although I thought all of your strengths included something to do with the ancient game NBA JAM. Schmidt is really asserting herself, especially in the last few weeks. A quick note as we prepare for the lineups, Kyla Roehrig did not warm up as Katie Vatterrodt looks to again start on the left side for Minnesota. Vatterrodt collected just three kills against Iowa Wednesday, but looked to grow increasingly comfortable in her position as the match went on. CJ Spang (6:55:24 PM): While I’m sure it’s tough for coach Hebert to have to rotating hitters, there’s probably some comfort knowing that Vatterrodt has some experience there, and appears to be comfortable. Being comfortable at a position is more important than people think. STARTING LINEUP: OH:Katie Vatterrodt MB: Lauren Gibbemeyer OH: Brook Dieter MB: Kelly Schmidt S: Rachel Hartmann OH: Pam Luiz L: Christine Tan