MINNEAPOLIS — The Gophers (9-5, 4-2 Big Ten) begin a four-match home stand tonight when the Northwestern Wildcats (7-10, 2-4 Big Ten) come to town. The two teams met previously this season on Oct. 2 in Evanston, Ill. Northwestern won the first two sets (24-26, 19-25) before the Gophers came back to win the final three sets to take the match (25-18, 31-29, 15-7).
Wednesday, Oct. 13
No. 12 Minnesota vs. Northwestern | 7 p.m. CT
LAST TIME OUT
• The University of Minnesota volleyball team split its weekend trip to Michigan with a five set loss to the Wolverines and a four set victory over Michigan State.
• The Gophers led 2-1 at Michigan before the Wolverines took sets four and five to win the match. Samedy led Minnesota with 19 kills while Shaffmaster had 45 assists, 16 digs and six kills.
• After dropping set one at MSU Saturday, Minnesota took the next three sets to win the match, 3-1. Airi Miyabe totaled a career-best 16 kills while Jenna Wenaas led the way with 17 as the Gophers responded to some adversity for their third road win of the year.
GOPHERS HISTORY AGAINST NORTHWESTERN
• The ‘U’ is 62-19 all-time vs. Northwestern, including a 15-1 record under Hugh McCutcheon. The lone loss came in 2014 (three sets). Of the last 16 meetings, nine have been decided in three sets. Minnesota beat Northwestern in a reverse sweep (five sets) on Oct. 2.
GOPHERS IN BIG TEN PLAY
• Under Hugh McCutcheon, Minnesota is 136-39 (.777) in Big Ten competition. In his nine seasons prior to 2021, the Gophers have had eight seasons above .500 in conference play. In all eight of those seasons, the ‘U’ went 15-5 or better in conference play, with the best being 19-1 in 2018.
• The Gophers won Big Ten titles in 2016 and 2018 and have finished either first, second or third in eight of the last nine seasons.
• The Wildcats (7-10. 2-4 Big Ten) hold conference wins over Rutgers and Maryland this season. They’ve been extremely competitive in conference play this season, taking Illinois and Minnesota to five sets and Nebraska and Penn State to four sets.
• NU is led by head coach Shane Davis, who’s in his sixth year in Evanston. He’s looking to lead the Wildcats to their first postseason appearance in nearly a decade.
• Outside Temi Thomas-Ailara has been dominant for Northwestern this season, leading the conference with 314 points and kills with 262.
SAMEDY AND WENAAS COMBINING AS LETHAL DUO
• Minnesota opposite Stephanie Samedy and outside Jenna Wenaas have combined for 417 of Minnesota’s 729 kills (.572). They’ve reached double digit kills a combined 24 times this season while Samedy has hit the 20-kill mark in seven of 13 matches. Statistically, they’re the top attacking duo in the Big Ten Conference
TIME TO DIG IT OUT
• The Gophers lead the Big Ten and rank 53rd nationally in digs per set (16.18). CC McGraw leads the team (4.44) while Samedy (3.48) and Melani Shaffmaster (2.69) are right around four and three per set, respectively.
• CC McGraw ranks fifth in the conference in digs (244) and fourth in digs per set (4.44).
CC CONTINUES PLAYING AT A HIGH LEVEL
• Senior libero/ds CC McGraw, who was named First Team All-Big Ten and AVCA All-America Honorable Mention in 2019, returned as another key piece for a Gophers team looking to take another step from last year. McGraw, who already earned her bachelor’s degree at the ‘U,’ is enrolled in a two-year master’s program in sport and exercise science.
• She also announced that she will be playing two more seasons with the Gophers and will be taking advantage of the NCAA-granted COVID year in 2022. After missing the team’s final eight games last year, she is off to a great start in 2021, ranking first on the team and fourth in the B1G in d/s (4.44).
• CC was Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after a 30-dig match at UO. She tallied her second 30+ dig match vs. Michigan Sept. 24 with 32. She’s the only B1G Player with 2+ 30-dig matches. She has four 20+ dig performances this year and two 30+ dig performances.
KILKELLY PACES THE DEFENSE
• Defensive specialist Rachel Kilkelly remains an invaluable part of Minnesota’s defense. The junior has totaled double digit digs in four matches this season, including three of the last five. The Shakopee, Minn., native has played in 239 sets in her career, including 65 matches.
HUSEMANN/MYERS HOLDING DOWN THE MIDDLE
• Ellie Husemann and Katie Myers have really emerged in the middle during the past couple weeks for the Gophers. Husemann (1.26 b/s) ranks No. 52 nationally and No. 10 in the Big Ten while Myers (1.08) lands in the top-20 in the B1G. They’re a big reason for the team’s improvement on the block.
• Husemann had a career-high nine blocks in a sweep of Maryland on Sept. 26 while Myers has registered multiple blocks in each of the last nine matches.
• Minnesota will host Indiana at 2 p.m. CT on Sunday. B1G+ will provide television coverage.
McMENIMEN MIC’D UP
Gopher senior Bayley McMenimen spoke with MNN sports director Mike Grimm:
(info and photo courtesy of Gopher Sports)