Gopher Volleyball 2019

MRJ

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Not sure how it can’t be. #1 and #3 recruit. Plus a top 20 player and a libero that is top 100.
There were some volleyball writers that were touting it as the nation's best class even before Wenaas committed. Adding her just further solidified it for a lot of them.

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beavergopher

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They are going to be fun to watch. Hugh nailed down a great class.
 

let'sbeclear

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Three of the four are Under Armour First Team All-Americans. But the article at Gophersports.com says this about Shaffmaster "She comes to Minnesota as Prep Volleyball's No. 16 recruit on the Senior Aces list." I thought she was in the top three in the country. Did something happen? [Oops. My mistake. That might have been Wenaas who was in the top three.]
 
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dlw4gophers

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Three of the four are Under Armour First Team All-Americans. But the article at Gophersports.com says this about Shaffmaster "She comes to Minnesota as Prep Volleyball's No. 16 recruit on the Senior Aces list." I thought she was in the top three in the country. Did something happen? [Oops. My mistake. That might have been Wenaas who was in the top three.]
Landfair is #1, Wenaas is #3, Shaffmaster has been around # 15 for the last year. If you look up different ranking, you will find players in different numerical order. This is a good indication that Hugh will have a lot of talent to work with. Now it is up to the staff to develop it.
 

Ewert86PC

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Well, that was a letdown. [emoji26]

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MRJ

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Well, that was a letdown. [emoji26]

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Congrats to the Badgers. They're simply a better team.

Frankly, I'm surprised the ladies kept it this close. Thought they played about as well as they're capable of and were pretty gritty, keeping a lot of points alive simply through excellent hustle.

But in the end, they just didn't make enough plays when they had the chance.

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let'sbeclear

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Congrats to the Badgers. They're simply a better team.

Frankly, I'm surprised the ladies kept it this close. Thought they played about as well as they're capable of and were pretty gritty, keeping a lot of points alive simply through excellent hustle.

But in the end, they just didn't make enough plays when they had the chance.

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A couple of telling stats:

1. Wisconsin made 21 hitting errors to the Gophers 16, and 13 service errors to the Gophers 4. With blocks being equal at 10 each, and digs ever so slightly favoring Wisconsin (76-73), one would think a difference of 14 in hitting and serving errors would be enough to win the match. The major discrepancy in favor of Wisconsin seemed to be the number of attacks -- 196-169 -- and that's probably what decided this match.

2. The last three matches Samedy has hit -.067, .130, and .130, with 4, 6, and 5 kills, respectively. Have teams figured out a way to take her out of the match -- at least offensively?

The crowd for this match was as fired up as I've ever heard a Gopher volleyball crowd from the very first point of the first set. And yet Wisconsin came out that set and hit an incredible .487, with 23 kills on 39 attempts. The Gophers also played well that first set, hitting .324, with only 2 attack errors, but Wisconsin came out clearly prepared to play in front of a very loud road crowd. Congratulations to the Badgers.
 

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A couple of telling stats:

1. Wisconsin made 21 hitting errors to the Gophers 16, and 13 service errors to the Gophers 4. With blocks being equal at 10 each, and digs ever so slightly favoring Wisconsin (76-73), one would think a difference of 14 in hitting and serving errors would be enough to win the match. The major discrepancy in favor of Wisconsin seemed to be the number of attacks -- 196-169 -- and that's probably what decided this match.

2. The last three matches Samedy has hit -.067, .130, and .130, with 4, 6, and 5 kills, respectively. Have teams figured out a way to take her out of the match -- at least offensively?

The crowd for this match was as fired up as I've ever heard a Gopher volleyball crowd from the very first point of the first set. And yet Wisconsin came out that set and hit an incredible .487, with 23 kills on 39 attempts. The Gophers also played well that first set, hitting .324, with only 2 attack errors, but Wisconsin came out clearly prepared to play in front of a very loud road crowd. Congratulations to the Badgers.
I think the Samedy issue is the setting. The passing/placement of the setter/setter ability isn't getting her decent sets. If I recall, some of her kills last night were assists from someone other than the setter at the moment.
 

let'sbeclear

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I think the Samedy issue is the setting. The passing/placement of the setter/setter ability isn't getting her decent sets. If I recall, some of her kills last night were assists from someone other than the setter at the moment.
Other Gopher hitters are getting their attacks in, though. Last night, for example, Hart had 41, Rollins, 40, Miyabe, 28, and Samedy, 23.
 

MplsGopher

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Miyabe has taken away the back-row attacks that Samedy was getting, though I'm not sure how many that really was or how effective they were. Samedy had a really good thing going with Miller. That hard cut shot she (Samedy) had from the right side with Miller's awesome backsetting, was almost impossible to block.

The new dynamics I think have just changed all that, and perhaps Samedy doesn't have the same chemistry.


That said, I like the new rotation. It seemed everyone was contributing pretty well. Hart is just so athletic and powerful, Rollins gets kills, Pittman was on fire at times, and Miyabe is putting the ball down pretty effectively. I like the double-sub ... they just run out of subs in these "overtime" sets. That's the risk. Once they run out, and get Kilkelly stuck in the front, it's pretty much over.



All that said ... I'll say these two things:

1) what a match. Both sides were playing with passion and urgency that you usually see in the playoffs. That was like a playoff match. Wisconsin hadn't won in Mnpls since 2014, and who knows the last time they swept the Gophers in a season, and the Gophers were trying to prevent that.

2) what a match. 22-25, 25-23, 28-30, 27-29. Tough to get much closer than that. So it's not like we got blown out.



Also:
- Rettke did not singlehandedly beat us, this time. She got her kills in, but she didn't overwhelm us. We had nice block touches on her, particularly latter in the match.
- Serve receive ... Wisconsin simply out played us there.
 

MplsGopher

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Is it safe to assume that Miller is done for the year? I know there's still a decent amount of ball to be played in the regular season ... but at this point, would you really want to spend a lot of time perfecting this new rotation ... just to suddenly go back to a 5-1 with Miller?

I think it's getting close to time where we need to just go with what we got, and get as good at doing that as we possibly can.


This is basically going to be the only season for Dolonga and McMenimen to have their time playing. Shaffmaster is going to be the starting setter next year.
 
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let'sbeclear

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One thing I thought was especially encouraging was in the 4th set, when the Gophers came back from down 23-17 to tie it up at 24-all. That showed some real grit and determination.
 

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I like the double-sub ... they just run out of subs in these "overtime" sets. That's the risk. Once they run out, and get Kilkelly stuck in the front, it's pretty much over.
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From the play-by-play, the Gophers used only 12 subs in sets 3 and 4. They get 15, don't they?
 

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let'sbeclear

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They get 15. For example, this shows in the 3rd set they used their 15th sub to put Kilkelly in for Hart after they went up 26-25: https://gophersports.com/sports/womens-volleyball/stats/2019/wisconsin/boxscore/9123

And again in the 4th set, the 15th sub was to put Kilkelly in for Hart after they got to 18-23.

EDIT: you use one sub for each trade
Aha! I was thinking that when you sub more than one player at the same time, it only counts as one substitution. But I guess not. Thanks.
 

Ewert86PC

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One thing I thought was especially encouraging was in the 4th set, when the Gophers came back from down 23-17 to tie it up at 24-all. That showed some real grit and determination.
I agree with encouragement seen in the taking 7 out of 8 points to tie up the set. That is elite level play.

However at this level of play, rallying back to tie needs to be sealed with winning the set. Rallying back to tie the set and losing the set, and subsequently the match, is the difference between a team that will go deep in the tournament and one that loses in the first round of the tournament.

The season isn't over, but the effort to close the gap so that we are elite winners, and not just elite players, is immense.

Ski-U-Mah

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MplsGopher

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It won't be a loss in the first round.

This is at least a sweet sixteen team. But I won't be surprised if we lose, from there.
 

Ewert86PC

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It won't be a loss in the first round.

This is at least a sweet sixteen team. But I won't be surprised if we lose, from there.
I think the Big Ten tournament will be more dangerous than the NCAA tournament. A lot of the conference programs are trending up, yet our trajectory, due to injuries and talent gaps, is flatter.

I would really like to know why Barnes transferred to Wisconsin. I find the "more playing time" rationalization lacking especially seeing how this team's behind the line play is our weakness this season.

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I think the Big Ten tournament will be more dangerous than the NCAA tournament. A lot of the conference programs are trending up, yet our trajectory, due to injuries and talent gaps, is flatter.

I would really like to know why Barnes transferred to Wisconsin. I find the "more playing time" rationalization lacking especially seeing how this team's behind the line play is our weakness this season.

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Big Ten tournament? There isn't one for volleyball.

As for Barnes transferring, my only thought is that she hopes to be the libero after Clark graduates.
 

Ewert86PC

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Big Ten tournament? There isn't one for volleyball.

As for Barnes transferring, my only thought is that she hopes to be the libero after Clark graduates.
No Big Ten tournament? So volleyball is hamstrung in terms of revenue generation? Hmmmm...... Don't let the money grubbers find out.

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MplsGopher

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I think the Big Ten tournament will be more dangerous than the NCAA tournament. A lot of the conference programs are trending up, yet our trajectory, due to injuries and talent gaps, is flatter.

I would really like to know why Barnes transferred to Wisconsin. I find the "more playing time" rationalization lacking especially seeing how this team's behind the line play is our weakness this season.

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I don’t think she’s said publicly. One can guess she wanted to be libero, and knew that she wouldn’t be so long as CC was here. At Wisconsin, she can take over once Clack graduates.
 

MplsGopher

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No Big Ten tournament? So volleyball is hamstrung in terms of revenue generation? Hmmmm...... Don't let the money grubbers find out.

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There is no BT tourny, just a regular season champ.

Some smaller confs do have conf tournys to determine the auto-bid, like the Summit League.
 

CutDownTheNet

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This was a rather unique match in that the average margin of victory per set was 9 / 4 = 2.25 points. While the tightest possible match has an exactly 2 point margin of victory for each set. I’m fairly sure that nobody keeps stats for average margin of set victory, although I suppose you could compute that stat if you had a complete database of all match results across all teams. But I’m guessing that an average 2-point margin happens almost zero times. And a 2.25 point margin happens how often - maybe one match in 10,000?

So this was about as tight of a battle as a volleyball match can be. And the victory is going to go to the team that can close out on tight sets. That would be Wisconsin in this case.

The difference was in both setting (due to injury, with consequences such as being harder to put a sufficiently accurate back-row set to Samedy) and height. You can’t argue with pure height + power, and that’s the definition of Dana Rettke. She has the power swing equivalent to all our best hitters, but she’s just hitting from a point a few inches higher. So all her hits are going downhill at a steeper angle. Plus on the block she’s that much harder to hit over.

So although Rettke didn’t single-handedly take us down, she was a big difference maker. There was a brief period where she sat out in the second set, and that’s when we really made hay and took what appeared to be an insurmountable lead. Then she came back in and I thought to myself, now we see whether Dana Rettke can almost single handedly save a lost set. She almost did, in conjunction with an incredible serving run by their libero. We were stuck at 23 for what seemed like forever, but we eventually took set 2. But in the remaining sets, we just didn’t have the superiority in those multiple deuces to close out those sets. Credit that to downhill hits by both Rettke and Molly Haggerty and Grace Loberg (along with their blocks) plus lack of kills by Samedy, and the result was one of the most exciting and competitive matches ever, but we lost.

If Miller was 100% and playing, we win that match.

Strategy-wise, I also have to complain about not enough sets to Pittman (and by the same token, probably too many sets to Hart and too many bad sets to Samedy). Pittman was a demon on fire for much of the match. She hit .647, for crying out loud, and was error-free, and you only give her 17 hits? WTF!

In contrast, Dana Rettke was given 49 hits, and yet only scored 10 more kills than Regan. Bear in mind that we only needed the reversal of 8 Badger points to win this match. That, in turn, requires only 4 more Gopher kills (that, instead in the actual game ended in Wisconsin points). Those 4 extra needed kills could have been easily gotten via about 10 more Pittman swings. This is estimated based on Pittman hitting .647 and the rest of the team hitting .243. Alternatively, only 8 more swings by Pittman and 8 less crappy sets to Samedy, would have done the job.

Do we call that an error in judgement by the setters, or do we call that a coaching error? Well in the end, the coaches are responsible for telling the setters what to do.

So I say that we sufficiently neutralized Dana Rettke such as to make the match winnable, and in spite of the huge deficit of Miller being out, the setting that was done was sufficiently good to win the match, but it’s just that the sets were improperly distributed across the available hitters according to their quality of hitting (or quality of being set in the case of Samedy).

Clearly Wisconsin was the better team on Thursday (thanks to our injury profile), but it was actually insufficient coaching that cost us the win. Mind you, I’m not saying incompetent coaching since our Hugh-led coaching staff is generally top-notch. But in this particular match we were out-coached.
 
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MplsGopher

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Pittman was a beast. Morgan and Samedy didn't seem to do much. Rollins and Hart both played well offensively. McGraw was outstanding. We just didn't do enough, and in sets 3/4 we could not close. Once we're out of subs and get stuck with Kilkelly in the front row, it's likely over.

Rettke did not beat us, for the match. No, she doesn't get that credit. She didn't play well enough in the entire match to deserve that credit. We were getting a lot of good block touches on her, and we got in her head. Proof of that was when she made that silly mistake of trying to slam dunk the overpass down and dropped it on her own side of the net.

Wisconsin as a whole team played very well, though. They were extremely motivated to put the feather in the cap of sweeping Minnesota this season. Congrats to them on getting that monkey off their backs.



I don't think I agree that Miller wins the game for us. The only set we're "missing" in the double-sub is a back-row rightside attack ... which again, how many of those were we actually doing and how effective had they been?

Miller and Samedy had a great thing going when Samedy was front row. That's what we miss the most. Samedy just doesn't have the same chemistry with Mcmenimen, for whatever reason.

But Miyabe is getting it done.


I say we stick with the double-sub for the rest of the season. I think it's clear by now that Miller is not coming back for this season. I wish her the best, I have sympathy for her, but whatever it is that she's battling is not relenting. And I don't want her coming back suddenly in late November demanding that we go back to the 5-1. If she's willing to work within the 6-2 double-sub, fine.

Regardless, it's a sweet sixteen year. If we play outstanding and go farther, great. Hopefully we do.


But next year, we get the #1 recruit to replace Hart, plus Miyabe can compete for time, Rollins is back, we have two good middle options to replace Morgan, Pittman back, Samedy back, and a great setter coming in.

Then we go for a final four finish.
 

CutDownTheNet

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Agreed that the prospects for next year are stellar in spite of the huge graduation losses of Hart and Morgan.

In the Badger match, Morgan actually played quite well, hitting .375, and arguably should have been given more touches along with Pittman. Hart (.195) was doing fairly well but perhaps a little bit less efficient than her usual and than Rollins (.275). I credit this to needing to hit against on-average taller blocks.

I haven’t done it, but I think if you compared Samedy’s recent production in the 6-2 scheme against the small-sample-size stats from the early season before Miller was injured, the delta benefit of her working with Miller would have been more than enough to give us the extra 4 kills needed to have beaten Wisconsin on Thursday.

So it’s an either/or situation in my opinion. Either having Miller to set better (e.g., with better chemistry) to Samedy, or better coaching decisions to set Pittman (and also Morgan) more frequently, would have resulted in a Gopher win.

But it looks like playing Miller in the rest of the season may be a moot point. As noted, we need to cheer for her health and not lobby for her to play unhealthy.

With proper (statistics-based) coaching decisions we can make the Sweet Sixteen and perhaps even go farther in the NCAA playoffs this year. No reason to just hang our heads and say “oh well” about this year, but rather let’s give the graduating seniors the honor of coaching them as well as mathematically possible.
 

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As I watch back that match, I noticed how often our setters are not in the best position to set our front row. I'm not sure if it's a matter of passing or where our setters prefer to set from, but if our setters are positioned near the net, they have all three options, plus the back row. Instead, our setters are setting up/camping out behind the front row, limiting their setting options. Again, chicken or egg - is it because that's where the pass goes or is it because they are not quick enough to get to the front and our passing passes where they are? Regardless, I see that as the single biggest issue to our 6-2 offense.
 

Ewert86PC

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Well, tonight was a better result from a more cohesive team.

I hope Rollins is okay and it is not a long term problem.

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let'sbeclear

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Well, tonight was a better result from a more cohesive team.

I hope Rollins is okay and it is not a long term problem.

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Another fan at tonight's match told me she had heard that Rollins was having some problems with her knee even before the Wisconsin match. But an event staff person asked around for me, and he said he thought it was a bad ankle.

After the second set tonight, I think the Gophers had only 7 hitting errors -- that's terrific -- but 8 receiving errors -- that's horrific.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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Michigan's 30 hitting errors (Minnesota had 10) helped the Gophers to a sweep. It would've been easier except the Gophers had 8 reception errors to the Wolverines 0. All in all a good match with Sheehan playing for Rollins. It was good to see Taylor Morgan restored to the offense.
 

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I don’t think she’s said publicly. One can guess she wanted to be libero, and knew that she wouldn’t be so long as CC was here. At Wisconsin, she can take over once Clack graduates.
Wiscy is also closer to home. Maybe she played club or AAU (or whatever they call it) volleyball with some of Wisconsin's current players. Maybe she has friends on the team already. Heck, maybe she would have preferred Wisconsin from the start but they never gave her the invite back then. The libero thing with CC does seem to be the most likely though.

Thank goodness for the volleyballers! Men's basketball goes 0-2 this week. Football loses. I know they lost to Wiscy on Thursday but the win tonight helps take some of the stink off the week that was. If the 3 gopher sports I follow would have put a doughnut in the win column this week, I really might have had to start drinking heavily tonight. :D
 
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