Sept. 23, 2008
NU Volleyball Weekly Release - Sept. 23
Northwestern has completed the preseason portion of its 2008 schedule and now embarks on the challenging Big Ten Conference run. The Wildcats travel to Minneapolis, Minn., to face the Gophers at 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 26. NU then makes the trek down I-35 to Iowa City, Iowa, to battle the Hawkeyes at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 27.
Twelfth-ranked Minnesota enters the weekend with a 10-2 record and a runner-up finish in the Gopher Invitational this past weekend. Minnesota defeated TCU 3-1 and Winthrop 3-0 before falling to North Carolina 3-2 in the championship game. Picked to finish second in the Big Ten this season, the Gophers have three players with triple-digit kill totals, led by sophomore Lauren Gibbemeyer's 142. Sophomore Brook Dieter (Naomi Johnson's high school teammate) has added 128 for Minnesota while senior Kyla Roehrig has notched 125 to pace Minnesota. The Gophers, who are ranked first in the Big Ten and seventh nationally in blocks per set (2.87), are paced by Gibbemeyer's 62 (including 12 solos) with senior Rachel Hartmann adding 30. Hartmann has also tallied 444 assists on the season, ranking third in the Big Ten in assists per set (10.83). Defensively, Minnesota is second in the nation in digs per set at 17.8, and is anchored by junior libero Christine Tan's 230 digs, which is tops in the Big Ten in digs per set (5.35) and sixth nationally. Head coach Mike Hebert is in his 13th season with the Gophers, compiling a 312-113 (.734) record in Minneapolis. He is in his 33rd season overall, and his 883-370 (.705) record makes him one of the top coaches in the nation.
The Hawkeyes begin Big Ten Conference play at 8-4 on the year and clinched the Hawkeye/Holiday Inn Challenge championship this past weekend by posting three victories without dropping a set. Iowa defeated Portland, DePaul and Tulsa by 3-0 margins, extending its winning streak to five-straight matches. The Hawkeyes already look improved coming off a 9-22 finish in 2007 and 1-19 in the Big Ten, and have been consistent on offense throughout the postseason, as their team hitting percentage of .269 is fifth in the Big Ten. Senior Catherine Smale and junior Megan Schipper have sparked the Iowa offensive attack, notching 147 and 143 digs respectively, while senior Laura Kremer has recorded 92 kills and 33 blocks. Sophomore Katie Kennedy has been a force up front for Iowa, leading the team in kills with 37 and also notching 51 kills. Senior setter Kiley Fister has dished out 391 assists on the season, averaging 9.31 per set, while senior libero Emily Hiza's 131 digs averages out to 3.64 per set. Sharon Dingman is in her first season as the head coach of the Hawkeyes after spending the last seven seasons at the helm of Illinois State, and previously spent eight seasons as the head coach at Butler, and has compiled a career record of 344-215 (.615).
Entering this weekend's series, Minnesota holds a 39-16 advantage in the all-time series and has won six of the last eight meetings against the Wildcats. The two split the pair of meetings last season, with NU defeating the Gophers 3-2 in Evanston before Minnesota swept the `Cats in three in Minneapolis, where they have won 16 of the last 17 meetings at the Sports Pavilion. Northwestern holds a 33-23-1 series lead against Iowa and have won the past five matches against the Hawkeyes. The Wildcats have fared well at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in recent years, winning the last six matches in Iowa City.
Moffett, Nobilio Named to Wildcat Classic All-Tournament Team
Sophomore Sabel Moffett picked up her third all-tournament team honors at the Wildcat Classic after recording 30 kills and 14 blocks in helping Northwestern to a runner-up finish at its home tournament. Moffett had just seven errors on 63 attempts for a .365 hitting percentage, as she also was named to the Chicagoland Challenge and Washington State Cougar Challenge all-tournament teams earlier this year. Moffett was joined by junior libero Kate Nobilio who anchored the Wildcat defense with 59 digs and added 19 assists. NU earned runner-up honors at its host tournament, posting a 2-1 record. Fourth-ranked UCLA captured the Classic championship at 3-0, with Virginia finishing third at 1-2 and Georgetown fourth at 0-3.
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