Minnesota taking on Iowa in midweek matchup

Following a tough three-set loss to Penn State on Saturday, senior setter Rachel Hartmann said the Minnesota volleyball team canâÄôt wait to get back out on the court. The Gophers will get that opportunity a little earlier than usual this week, as the team hosts Iowa Wednesday at 7 p.m. âÄúThat couldnâÄôt work out more perfectly,âÄù Hartmann said. âÄúWeâÄôre very excited to get back to playing instead of having to wait until Friday and have the whole week to think about it.âÄù Instead, the quick turnaround sends Minnesota back to match play two days early, as the Hawkeyes (11-7 overall, 3-3 Big Ten) come to town with two more conference wins already this season than they had all last year. Iowa has shown marked improvement, using a solid balanced attack to sweep No. 21 Wisconsin earlier this year. âÄúThey must feel like theyâÄôve broken out of prison,âÄù coach Mike Hebert said. âÄúThey couldnâÄôt win, and now theyâÄôre at a level where their talent is improving and the excitement is improving. IâÄôm really impressed with what [coach] Sharon Dingman has done.âÄù Dingman, in her first year with the Hawkeyes, has gotten more production out of her outside hitters this season, with two players averaging more than three kills per set. Senior Catherine Smale and junior Megan Schipper have combined for 6.6 of IowaâÄôs 12.9 kills per set this year. âÄúThe personnel weâÄôre going to see is basically the same, but we donâÄôt know them in their new emotional framework,âÄù Hebert said. âÄúI donâÄôt think thereâÄôs any one player that stands out, theyâÄôre a very balanced team.âÄù But Minnesota is also well-balanced, especially defensively. The Gophers have all six starting front row players averaging at least .57 blocks per set, and also boast six players with more than 100 digs so far this season. Sophomore middle blocker Lauren Gibbemeyer leads Minnesota with 1.52 blocks per set, and adds 3.36 kills per set with a .321 hit percentage. Sophomore outside hitter Brook Dieter has added 3.44 kills per set to the offense so far this season. Beyond that, the Gophers appear to be well aware of the new Iowa, meaning the Hawkeyes perhaps wonâÄôt be surprising Minnesota in the same way it shocked Wisconsin earlier this season. âÄúIowaâÄôs come out and challenged a lot of good teams,âÄù senior middle blocker Kelly Schmidt said. âÄúThe Big Ten is talking about Iowa right now; everyone is thinking, âÄòWatch out for Iowa.âÄô But we always love to play good competition, so weâÄôre excited to play them.âÄù Injury watch Senior outside hitter Kyla Roehrig will receive some time off against Iowa, and senior outside hitter Katie Vatterrodt is expected to fill in on the left side. âÄúKylaâÄôs pretty sore,âÄù Hebert said. âÄúWeâÄôd like to get her some time away from the court.âÄù Vatterrodt has the most experience of MinnesotaâÄôs bench, and has spent time on both the left and right sides over the past two seasons, turning out a career-high 17 kills against top-ranked Nebraska in 2006.