We're about to get underway here at the Sports Pavilion for the first match of the conference season between Northwestern and Minnesota. The Gophers have been led by sophomore middle blocker Lauren Gibbemeyer's strong play thus far this season, as she leads the team with 142 kills and 62 blocks.
Northwestern's strengths have also been at the middle blocker position, as sophomore Sabel Moffett and senior Chelsy Hyser both enter the match hitting over .300, and are the only two on the team hitting above .200.
But the Wildcats do have a history of playing Minnesota tough, especially recently. Northwestern has won two of the last five matches, with three of those going to five sets.
Former Minnesota defensive specialist Krista Chin is with us once again, to give us her take on the history.
Daily: Based on your experiences from the past, what can you assume about
tonight's match verse Northwestern?
Chin: To start things off, last season we had a tough loss on Northwestern's
home court. It was a loss that the entire team wanted to forget; however, it
will always be remembered in the back of the upperclassman's minds. When
Northwestern came to the Pavilion, the Gophers had a different mindset
during that week of practice, and the moment we stepped onto the court for
warm-ups, it was apparent the mentality was completely different and we were
not going to lose on our home court. Heading into tonight's match, we can
expect a scrappy defense from the Wildcats. Libero Kate Nobilio, is arguably
one of the best, with our own Christine Tan, in the Big Ten. She is able to
add energy on the court and increase the level of play from her front row
players by making exceptional saves. Setter Elyse Glab has been a rising
star in the Big Ten. She is definitely on course to be one of the best in
the conference during the upcoming seasons. I had the privilege of playing
with Glab during the club season, and it has been incredible to watch her
mature as a setter. She has very good hands, and her work ethic is
outstanding. Look to Chelsy Hyser, the Wildcats' go-to hitter, to put some
kills down and make a statement from the start. Hyser is a competitive
player with a lot of fire. It will be interesting to see how her competitive
nature matches up against Minnesota's very own competitive leader, Lauren
Daily: Difference between nonconference and conference matches?
Chin: After a disappointing loss to North Carolina during the nonconference
season, it is important for the Gophers to put things together and show what
they have worked on since this loss. Nonconference matches give a team a
chance to utilize their entire bench and work with different line-ups. No
team can overlook anyone during the nonconference season, especially when
you play high caliber teams like Hawaii, Cal, and Cal Poly. Nonconference
matches are always crucial for the postseason, as the NCAA looks at the
competition level throughout the season. Heading into the conference season,
the Gophers will look for leaders of the team to emerge and get this team on
the right track for a Big Ten Championship.
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