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Fanalysis: Rockvale Outlets/AVCA College Volleyball Showcase

August 21, 2011

The Rockvale Outlets/AVCA College Volleyball Showcase gets going on Friday, August 26th at 6:00 pm ET when AVCA Coaches poll preseason  #2 USC takes on #12 Minnesota, followed by AVCA preseason #1 Penn State vs. #27 Oregon at 8:00 p.m. ET.  Both matches will be broadcast live on BTN.  The Showcase continues on Saturday, when Minnesota faces Oregon at 6:00 p.m., followed by Penn State vs. USC at 8:00 p.m. ET.  Again, both matches will be broadcast live by BTN.

Our crack DigNittanyVolleyball  team of researchers and statisticians has put together overviews of all three visiting teams, including rosters and videos.  But first, another installment of our Fanalysis segment, for the fan perspective on these matches.  This time we’ll be talking with (R)uffda, a Minnesota fan.  We’ll have a segment with a Penn State fan or two later in the week.

 Fanalysis

DigNittany: We’re really looking forward to the Rockvale/AVCA College Volleyball Showcase. We know, these are the first two matches of the season, and no one except the coaches and players really knows what to expect. But we imagine there are a few things – the performance of specific players, the way the offense and defense respond to different challenges – that you’ll be keying on from your Gophers (either in person – we have two tickets for you, (R)uffda! – or on the BTN) that will give you a sense of how they are positioned to start the season. Give us three things you’ll be focusing on in assessing Minnesota.

(R)uffda: 1) How will Hailey Cowles hold up in the front row? If you recall, she inherited the OH position when Brook Dieter left mid-season 2009 and played admirably, especially in the NCAA Semifinal against Texas. However, she missed all of the 2010 season with a knee injury and is undersized for a top 20 team’s OH. I believe her hitting weaknesses, mostly due to that size disadvantage [Note: she is listed on the Minnesota roster, below, at 5-10], are more than offset by her ball control skills. Having her on the court for all 6 rotations is probably a net plus overall. But, first, we need to see if she has fully recovered.

2) Will they be competitive against USC? I don’t expect them to win, but if they can hang in there with the Trojans — my pick for 2011′s #1 team — that’ll be impressive.

3) Will they beat Oregon? To me, this is a really important match for them in terms of RPI. I am not underestimating the Ducks, but this is a match Minnesota should win, if they are healthy. A loss may lower Gopher fan expectations significantly.

4) I’ve got nothing. I just wanted to ignore your instructions.

DigNittany: Our instructions are made to be ignored!  But back to the Q&A.  Anything about USC and/or Oregon that gives you confidence (or the willies)?

(R)uffda: I guess Falyn Fonoimoana is gone from the Trojan roster, so that makes them less imposing. But it’s a good indication of their talent level that I still think they are the strong favorite in this match.

I don’t know much about the Ducks except they seem to have revamped the roster from 2010. What I don’t know is if the 2009 Oregon team is the new standard for this program [Note: Oregon was 20-9 in 2009] or if it was just an up year. What I suspect is that they are better than people think — and that worries me. Maybe not to the point of willies worry, but worry nonetheless.

Plus there was that incident I had with a duck at summer camp when I was 9. But I don’t want to talk about that.

DigNittany: So what are your predictions?

(R)uffda: I think USC wins both its matches, and Minnesota and the Lions beat Oregon. I just think USC stands to have the most stability this early in the season (even with the Fonoimoana situation).  I honestly wouldn’t be that surprised by any result, although Penn State starting the season 0-2, at home, seems pretty unlikely.

DigNittany: Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. Go Gophers! (and Penn State).

Here’s a quick look at the three visiting teams (in alphabetical order).

Minnesota

Other than what (R)uffda just told us, we don’t know much about the University of Minnesota volleyball program.  The Golden Gophers are led by interim Head Coach Laura Bush, captains Hailey Cowles (5-10 Sr. OH) and Mia Tabberson (6-2 Jr. S), and returning players like Jessica Granquist (5-8 Sr. L),  Tori Dixon (6-3 So. MB), and Ashley Wittman (6-0 So. OH).  Minnesota was ranked #12 in the AVCA Top 25 2011 preseason poll, and Dixon and Wittman were named to the 17 member preseason 2011 All-Big Ten team. 

However, we’ve included two videos below, featuring interviews with Coach Bush, Hailey Cowles, Mia Tabberson, and Jessica Granquist, all of whom do know something about the team:

Minnesota Roster

No.

Name

Pos.

Ht.

Yr.

Hometown (Last School)

12

Bohl, Morgan Outside Hitter 6-0 FR Centennial, Colo. (Eaglecrest HS)

3

Cowles, Hailey Outside Hitter 5-10 RS SR Eden Prairie, Minn. (Eden Prairie HS)

18

Daugaard, Juliane Middle Blocker 6-2 FR Middelfart, Denmark (Birkerod Gymnasium)

6

Dixon, Tori Middle Blocker 6-3 SO Burnsville, Minn. (Burnsville HS)

11

Filho, Ariana Middle Blocker 6-2 SR Monument, Colo. (Lewis-Palmer HS)

2

Granquist, Jessica Libero 5-8 SR Blaine, Minn. (Blaine HS)

8

Harms, Katherine Outside Hitter 6-2 JR Albertville, Minn. (St. Michael-Albertville HS)

4

Haugen, Brianna Outside Hitter/Middle Blocker 6-1 JR Minneapolis, Minn. (Southwest HS)

5

McNeil, Kellie Setter 5-11 FR Lakeville, Minn. (Lakeville North HS)

1

Menden, Jess Defensive Specialist 5-8 SR Shakopee, Minn. (Shakopee HS)

16

Roberts, Caitlin Defensive Specialist 5-5 FR Woodbury, Minn. (Woodbury)

10

Sooter, Steffi Libero/Defensive Specialist 5-9 SO Santa Cruz, Calif. (Aptos HS)

7

Tabberson, Mia Setter 6-2 JR Muncie, Ind. (Burris HS)

13

Wittman, Ashley Outside Hitter 6-0 SO Shakopee, Minn. (Shakopee HS)

Oregon

Once again, we admit our ignorance – we don’t know much about the Oregon Ducks, either.  (Our crack team of researchers and statisticians weren’t much help — something about beautiful weather and “get a life.”)   We do know that the 2011 team was picked for sixth place in a preseason poll of the Pac-12 Conference’s women’s volleyball coaches, and #27 in the AVCA Top 25 2011 preseason poll.  

We also know that the 2011 Ducks swept an alumni all-star squad (that, according to an Oregon press release, included “All Americans, All-Pac-10 honorees and starters from the past decade”).  So we know that Penn State and Minnesota will need to play better than those Duck All-Stars to have a chance. 

In the “New Ducks” vs. “Old Ducks” match, 6-3 redshirt Jr. OH Alaina Bergsma led the 2011 Ducks in kills (15, with a .273 attack percentage), aces (2) and points (17), and was second in digs with seven.   6-2 Jr. OH Lauren Gross and 6-2 So. MB Ariana Williams both totaled nine kills, with Williams  hitting (.533) and leading the team in blocks with four.  5-9 So. S Lauren Plum led the offense, totaling 41 assists, and 5-2 Jr. L Haley Jacob recorded eight digs.

For those of you who are looking for a bit more information on Oregon, here’s a video interview with Oregon Head Coach Jim Moore (who does know something about the team) from July 2011:

 

Oregon Roster 

No.  
Name  
Pos.  
Ht.  
Yr.  

Hometown (Prev School)

16

Ashen, Shellsy S

5-10

Fr. Laguna Niguel, Calif. (Dana Hills)

2

Bergsma, Alaina OH

6-3

RJr. Chandler, Ariz. (Valley Christian)

1

Bookout Gonzalez, Natalie DS

5-1

Fr. Riverside, Calif. (Eleanor Roosevelt)

6

Brenner, Liz OH

6-1

Fr. Portland, Ore. (Jesuit )

8

Buckendahl, Chloe OH

6-0

Fr. Vista, Calif. (Rancho Buena Vista)

12

Fischer, Katherine OH

5-10

Jr. Los Altos, Calif. (Homestead)

15

Gross, Lauren OH

6-2

Jr. Orange, Calif. (El Modena)

9

Jacob, Haley L

5-2

Jr. League City, Texas (Clear Creek)

3

Kawasaki, Kellie L

5-5

Jr. West Linn, Ore. (West Linn)

17

Krstojevic, Milica MB

6-3

Jr. Gacko, Bosnia (Florida State College) (HSC Pero Slijepcevic Gacko)

10

Paffen, Savannah MB

6-2

Fr. Mountain View, Calif. (St. Francis)

4

Plum, Lauren S

5-9

So. Poway, Calif. (Poway)

5

Wheeler, Jaklyn OH

6-0

So. Red Bluff, Calif. (Red Bluff)

7

Williams, Ariana MB

6-2

So. Riverside, Calif. (Poly)

 

USC

Even without Falyn Fonoimoana, the USC women’s volleyball team is formidable.  After posting a 29-5 record in 2010 (losing to Cal in the NCAA semifinals), it was ranked No. 2 in the AVCA (American Volleyball Coaches Association) 2011 preseason poll.  And many observers think that ranking is too low.  USC returns three senior All-Americans in 6-3 OH Alex Jupiter (All-Planet?), 5-11 S Kendall Bateman and 6-4 MB Lauren Williams.  That’s senior leadership writ large — something Penn State has thrived on in recent years (but is missing for 2011). 

For more on USC, below is an interview with USC Head Coach Mick Haley from August 15th:

And here’s an interview with USC Assistant Coach Tim Nollan from August 11th:

USC Roster

 

No.   NAME   Height Position   Year Hometown High School

12

  Kendall Bateman   5-11 Setter   SR Manhattan Beach, Calif. Mira Costa

5

  Kirby Burnham   6-2 Outside Hitter/Opposite   SO Newport Beach, Calif. Newport Harbor

4

  Hayley Crone   5-9 Setter   FR Temecula, Calif. Great Oak

11

  Eve Ettinger   6-2 Middle Blocker   FR Santa Barbara, Calif. Santa Barbara

22

  Katie Fuller   6-2 Outside Hitter/Opposite   JR Olivenhain, Calif. La Costa Canyon

3

  Natalie Hagglund   5-9 Libero   SO Encinitas, Calif. La Costa Canyon

9

  Sam Hirschmann   5-10 Outside Hitter   SO Manhattan Beach, Calif. Marymount

7

  Alex Jupiter   6-3 Outside Hitter   SR Paris, France Redondo Union

1

  Alexis Olgard   6-5 Middle Blocker   SO Spokane, Wash. Mead

2

  Bria Russ   5-9 Outside Hitter   FR Long Beach, Calif. Poly

14

  Hannah Schraer   6-3 Middle Blocker   FR Arcadia, Calif. Mayfield

10

  Sara Shaw   6-2 Outside Hitter/Opposite   SO Austin, Texas Westlake

6

  Natasa Siljkovic   6-3 Middle Blocker   JR Uzice, Serbia School of Economy

8

  Lauren Williams   6-4 Middle Blocker   SR Houston, Texas Stratford

15

  Erin Yoder   5-8 Defensive Specialist   JR San Clemente, Calif. San Clemente

20

  Emily Young   6-2 Setter/Opposite   FR Schaumburg, Ill. Schaumburg

 

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