Gopher Volleyball 2021-Fall Season

Ignatius L Hoops

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Gopher Spotlight: Jenna Wenaas

Jenna Wenaas is a sophomore outside from Frisco, Texas. After playing in just 43 sets as a freshman, Wenaas is having a breakout sophomore year with 101 kills in eight matches thus far. She ranks second on Minnesota with 3.48 kills per set and has double-digit kills in seven different matches this season. She won Big Ten Player of the Week on Monday after tallying 28 kills in two three set wins over UST and Iowa State. A former top-10 recruit in the class of 2020, Wenaas is majoring in health and well-being sciences.

GS: How did you first get into playing volleyball?
JW:
I really started because of my mom. I used to play softball, but they didn't have it as a sport in middle school so I got into volleyball. So that was in seventh grade that I started playing for the school team and started playing club shortly after.

GS: What other sports did you play besides volleyball growing up?
JW:
Yes, I also played basketball, softball and ran track (in middle school) but once I got to high school I focused on volleyball. Softball was my first love and I thought I wanted to play it in college when I was in middle school, but volleyball eventually took over and became my favorite.

GS: At what point in your early career could you start to see you had the ability you could play at a high level?
JW:
Really not until my junior year of high school. I knew I was pretty good early on, but I didn't know if I was good enough to play at Minnesota and in the Big Ten. I played for a different coach for my club team named Ping and he helped me develop a lot in a short amount of time.

GS: What made you choose Minnesota in your recruitment process?
JW:
I just loved the opportunities that were provided with the Minnesota volleyball program. I knew [head coach] Hugh [McCutcheon] was a great coach and he could help me develop into the best player I could be. I knew I could learn a ton from him and the coaching staff. With Minnesota being a top program and getting to play in the best volleyball conference in the country, becoming a Gopher was the best decision for me.

GS: Why did you choose to wear the number 2?
JW:
I was No. 2 in high school and No. 5 in club. Melani [Shaffmaster] chose 5, so I was good with 2.

GS: What goals do you hope for the team to accomplish this year?
JW:
I think we're fully capable of winning the Big Ten and going on a deep run in the [NCAA] tournament. Our goals are also to meet our standards, which are giving 100% effort every play and communicating as a group. We just want to get better every day and be good teammates to one another.

GS: What goals do you have for yourself?
JW:
I just want to be the player I know I'm capable of being. So just bettering myself so I can be the best player and person I can.

GS: Which games are you looking forward to most?
JW:
Any game in the Pav is always fun. But probably Nebraska or Wisconsin, because those games are always high energy and intense.

GS: When you're not on the volleyball court, what do you like to do?
JW:
I love hanging out with friends, swimming, wakeboarding, playing beach volleyball and going shopping.

GS: What's something that Gopher fans don't know about you?
JW:
I have two dogs and a cat. The dogs are named Moose and Lilly, and my cat is named Binx (from the movie 'Hocus Pocus).
 


Ignatius L Hoops

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Michigan were scramblers. It was good to see Landfair back on the court; she brought a shot of adrenalin to the match getting balls through the block that was stymieing Wenaas. During the fourth set Hugh went over and said something to Landfair and her warmup was off in a flash-so much for "undisclosed injury".

I saw the Badger score during the match and it appeared Wisconsin gave up 8 straight points to the Terps in losing the fifth set 15-10. Looking forward to Sunday's Maryland match-up.
 

MplsGopher

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Michigan were scramblers. It was good to see Landfair back on the court; she brought a shot of adrenalin to the match getting balls through the block that was stymieing Wenaas. During the fourth set Hugh went over and said something to Landfair and her warmup was off in a flash-so much for "undisclosed injury".

I saw the Badger score during the match and it appeared Wisconsin gave up 8 straight points to the Terps in losing the fifth set 15-10. Looking forward to Sunday's Maryland match-up.
I'm sure there was an injury back in the Texas match (or in practice prior), but guessing that has long since healed. I think Miyabe was just playing better and had earned the starting role.

Hugh is as non-forthcoming, and in this case downright dishonest, about player health status as you get in coaching.
 



ClassOf98Gopher

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I'm sure there was an injury back in the Texas match (or in practice prior), but guessing that has long since healed. I think Miyabe was just playing better and had earned the starting role.

Hugh is as non-forthcoming, and in this case downright dishonest, about player health status as you get in coaching.
I think he hears from fans that they demand from him, as his first priority, to win games - win tournaments - win championships.

So therefore, dishonestly in service of NOT giving his upcoming opponents actionable intelligence about our team he views as his mandate from us fans.
 

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I'm sure there was an injury back in the Texas match (or in practice prior), but guessing that has long since healed. I think Miyabe was just playing better and had earned the starting role.

Hugh is as non-forthcoming, and in this case downright dishonest, about player health status as you get in coaching.
I wish Hugh occasionally said something of value to the fans about his team.

Did the booster club ever have chalk talks where he would say something of interest about the team?
 


Ignatius L Hoops

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For your viewing enjoyment: Maryland/Wisconsin highlights featuring the Terps closing out the Badgers in the 5th set.

 



MplsGopher

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Bummer, tomorrow's match is only on BTN+ , which you have to pay extra for even if you already have BTN. That's a vehement NO for me, on principle. I already pay for BTN.

Sometimes FOX 9+ (the old My29 channel) will be picking those ones up, but not this one.
 
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ClassOf98Gopher

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The Big Ten just keeps getting deeper and deeper.
I honestly think this is true, as regards to deep-ness in the middle of the conference. However the BigTen laid a big stink bomb in the NCAA tourney last year; so I am quite hesitant to be overconfident about the top end of the BigTen.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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OUTTA BOUNDS, POINT U! is still ringing in my ears. Minnesota made short work (1 hour and about 10 minutes) of Maryland in straight sets (13, 12, 16) The Terps committed 14 hitting errors in each of the first two sets and finished with 35 (I think). When the Terps lowered the shots, the Gopher block (14 for the game) turned them into points. Wenaas and Samedy each posted 11 kills and Landfair 8. It was a nice Sunday afternoon outing.
 



MplsGopher

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OUTTA BOUNDS, POINT U! is still ringing in my ears. Minnesota made short work (1 hour and about 10 minutes) of Maryland in straight sets (13, 12, 16) The Terps committed 14 hitting errors in each of the first two sets and finished with 35 (I think). When the Terps lowered the shots, the Gopher block (14 for the game) turned them into points. Wenaas and Samedy each posted 11 kills and Landfair 8. It was a nice Sunday afternoon outing.
I know you almost never post commentary, let alone analysis.

But I gotta ask you: why do you think Maryland laid such an egg here, after taking out Wisconsin at home?? Fluke? They spent all their energy on Wisc? Homes vs away? Other factors? All of the above?
 

ClassOf98Gopher

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I know you almost never post commentary, let alone analysis.

But I gotta ask you: why do you think Maryland laid such an egg here, after taking out Wisconsin at home?? Fluke? They spent all their energy on Wisc? Homes vs away? Other factors? All of the above?
What if it was Wisconsin what really laid the egg?
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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I know you almost never post commentary, let alone analysis.

But I gotta ask you: why do you think Maryland laid such an egg here, after taking out Wisconsin at home?? Fluke? They spent all their energy on Wisc? Homes vs away? Other factors? All of the above?

Maryland couldn't find a way through Myers and Husemann or any of the Gopher middle and outside blockers. The Gophers were making contact with almost every shot that wasn't sailing out of bounds. Offensively, Minnesota had too many options for the Terps to stop. It helps that Landfair is back in the front row and that the middles are more involved in the offense. AND CC McGraw is having a hell of a season.

Maryland was undefeated; but Minnesota, Wisconsin and Virginia are easily the best teams they've faced. They were probably over due for a spate of wild swinging.
 

Hrothgar

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Maryland couldn't find a way through Myers and Husemann or any of the Gopher middle and outside blockers. The Gophers were making contact with almost every shot that wasn't sailing out of bounds. Offensively, Minnesota had too many options for the Terps to stop. It helps that Landfair is back in the front row and that the middles are more involved in the offense. AND CC McGraw is having a hell of a season.

Maryland was undefeated; but Minnesota, Wisconsin and Virginia are easily the best teams they've faced. They were probably over due for a spate of wild swinging.
Maryland's weekend has a good tennis analogy: A really good player can beat a Nadal one wknd. He can also beat a Djokovic one wknd. Nobody is likely to beat both Nadal AND Djokovic in the same wknd. Maryland VB faced the no. 2 & 9 ranked teams in one weekend. One win is pretty spectacular! Hardly any team in the country could've won both those games.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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Samedy is B1G Player of Week.

Sept. 27
P: Stephanie Samedy, Sr., MINN
D: Rainelle Jones, Sr., MD
D: Jael Johnson, Sr., PUR
S: Gabby Blossom, Sr., PSU
F: Lindsay Krause, NEB

Player of the Week
Stephanie Samedy, Minnesota
Sr. – OPP – Clermont, Fla. – East Ridge – Major: Human Resources

• Averaged 5.13 kills, 3.88 digs and 1.00 blocks per set with a .304 hitting percentage and two double-doubles last week as the No. 9 Gophers opened conference play with wins over Michigan and Maryland
• Registered her second 30-kill match of the season on Sept. 24 vs. Michigan, finishing with 30 kills (one off her career high), 17 digs and three blocks in Minnesota’s five-set win
• Added 11 kills, 14 digs and five blocks in Sunday’s victory over Maryland
• Selected for Academic All-Big Ten recognition in 2019 and was last year’s Senior CLASS Award recipient in the sport of volleyball
• Earns her 10th career Player of the Week honor (tying Wisconsin’s Dana Rettke for third-most in Big Ten history) and second this season
• Last Minnesota Player of the Week: Stephanie Samedy (Sept. 13, 2021)
 

Ski U Mah Gopher

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Samedy is B1G Player of Week.

Sept. 27
P: Stephanie Samedy, Sr., MINN
D: Rainelle Jones, Sr., MD
D: Jael Johnson, Sr., PUR
S: Gabby Blossom, Sr., PSU
F: Lindsay Krause, NEB
That gives Minnesota 3 straight POTW awards.

The release was mistaken. Jenna Wenaas won POTW Sept 20.
 

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Gopher Spotlight: Melani Shaffmaster

Melani Shaffmaster is a sophomore setter from New Castle, Ind. Shaffmaster had an impactful freshman year, starting in 18 matches, registering 649 assists, 58 kills, 11 aces, 198 digs and 42 blocks. She was a Freshman All-Big Ten selection, AVCA All-Region, a two-time Big Ten Setter of the Week and a one-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week. The Academic All-Big Ten selection has started in all eight matches this season and leads the team with 307 assists. She's also majoring in accounting in the Carlson School of Management.

GS: How did you first get into playing volleyball?
MS:
My sisters always played volleyball, and my oldest sister Morgan (who is 11 years older) played. So I would always go watch them play and from the time I was just a couple years old I was trying to serve volleyballs over the net.

GS: What other sports did you play besides volleyball growing up?
MS:
I played pretty much volleyball only from day one. I tried a few other sports through YMCA but I just fell in love with volleyball and here we are today.

GS: Many people don't know that you weren't always a setter on the court, why did you decide to switch positions?
MS:
I used to play on the outside, but one day we needed a setter because a girl on my team got hurt. I started setting and kept getting better at it. I also had a huge growth spurt and shot up to 6'3" but I still kept setting because that's what I was good at and what my team needed.

GS: Your college recruitment was wrapped up pretty quickly as you committed to Minnesota in eighth grade. What made you choose the Gophers so early in the process?
MS:
My first visit here, the whole time I was just smiling and happy. As soon as I got home, I was like, 'yeah this is where I'm going.' It just felt right to me. I knew I wanted to get out of Indiana for college and everything about Minnesota was a perfect fit for me.

GS: What about the Gophers coaching staff helped make your decision to come to Minnesota?
MS:
Hugh [McCutcheon] and the whole coaching staff are great. What I got on my visit is everything I'm getting now. They were completely transparent with how things were going to be here and I really appreciated that. Also, a goal of mine is to play in the Olympics one day, and if I want to do that, then I want to play for someone that has coached in the Olympics.

GS: What was a favorite memory of yours from high school and club volleyball?
MS:
When I played for 15's in club, our team was so fun. We never lost a game and in nationals I don't even think we lost a set. I got to play with a couple of my best friends, Kylie Murr (Ohio State) and Kenzie Knuckles (Nebraska) and we just had great chemistry.

GS: Your first year on campus, you didn't get to experience fans and being in road environments in the Big Ten. How excited are you for that?
MS:
It's going to be so intense, especially since I did go on visits to some of these other schools. I love when fans are in the stands and making noise. It was horrible playing in complete silence last year and I hope we don't have to do that again.

GS: What goals do you have for the team this year?
MS:
I think winning a Big Ten title is achievable and so is winning a national title. We have big goals as a team this season.

GS: What goals do you have for yourself this year?
MS:
I really just want to play well and help the team. I don't really care about awards and accolades, I mean if those come, then that means I did my job. I want to do the best I can as an individual so I can help the team.

GS: What games are you most excited to play in this year?
MS:
Definitely Wisconsin because I didn't get to play against them next year. Also Ohio State because we didn't get to play them last year. I'm looking forward to playing at Indiana because I'll have a lot of friends and family there.

GS: What do you like to do most off the court?
MS:
I love to go shopping (especially for shoes) and go to other sporting events. I want to try and see every other Gophers team play at least once this year. I also love to travel!

GS: What's something that Gopher fans don't know about you?
MS:
I have three sisters, Morgan, Mabrey and Macy. I'm the third oldest, and my youngest sister Mabrey plays volleyball at North Carolina.

 

Ignatius L Hoops

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Badgers

MADISON, Wis. -- Fifth-ranked Wisconsin (9-1, 1-1 B1G) opens its home Big Ten Conference season by hosting No. 7 Minnesota (7-3, 2-0) in the UW Field House on Friday. First serve is at 8 p.m. live on the Big Ten Network. The Badgers weekend series continues on Sunday, playing at Illinois (10-3, 2-0). UW faces off against the Fighting Illini at 12 p.m. from Huff Hall in Champaign, Illinois. The match streams live on B1G+.

1. HONORING STEVE LOWE: Friday is the 31st-annual Steve Lowe Night in honor of the former Badger coach. Lowe was 108-65 in five years at Wisconsin from 1986-90, leading UW to its first Big Ten championship, first national ranking and first NCAA tournament appearance.

2. SCHOOL RECORD ON THE LINE: The Badgers put their school record 25-match home winning streak on the line on Friday. UW has won 25 straight at home, dating back to Sept. 19, 2019, when UW fell to Washington, 3-0. This year's team tied the record of 25 straight at home from Oct. 29, 1999-Sept. 8, 2001. Wisconsin has also won 18 straight home Big Ten matches.

3. SYDNEY THE SUPER SETTER: Setter Sydney Hilley leads the nation with 12.06 assists per set. The 6-foot graduate student set a UW five-set record under 25-point rally scoring with 66 assists at Maryland on Friday. Hilley went over 5,000 assists for her career on Friday, becoming just the fourth Badger and the 26th Big Ten setter to go over 5K helpers.

4. LEADING THE NATION...STILL!: Despite hitting a season-low .196 at Maryland on Friday, Wisconsin continues to lead the nation with a .331 team hitting percentage. Fifth-year Dana Rettke leads the nation with a .554 (120K-12E-195TA) individual hitting percentage.

5. SERVING STRUGGLES: The Badgers struggled with their serving last weekend, giving up 12 aces, nearly doubling their season total. Wisconsin also had a season-high 17 service errors at Maryland on Friday. On the year, UW outscores opponents 65-26 from the service line, averaging 1.91 aces per set while giving up 0.76 aces per set.

6. SCOUTING THE TEAMS: No. 9 Minnesota is currently 7-3 on the season with all of their losses coming from top-10 teams. The Golden Gophers have a win over No.14 Stanford and are undefeated in Big Ten play with wins over Michigan and Maryland last weekend. Fifth-year senior opposite hitter Stephanie Samedy leads the Gophers with 5.09 kills per set, followed by sophomore Jenna Wenaas with 3.32 kills per set. Ellie Husemann, a junior middle blocker, has a team-best 1.44 blocks per set while senior libero CC McGraw leads the team with 4.82 digs per set.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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How they stack up​

Here's how the Badgers and Gophers match up statistically
WISCONSIN MINNESOTA
9-1 (1-1)Record (Big Ten)7-3 (2-0)
No. 5AVCA rankingNo. 7
Def. Rutgers, 3-0Last time outDef. Maryland, 3-0
.331Hitting percentage.241
14.6Kills per set13.3
.148Opponent hitting.155
2.4Blocks per set2.8
13.3Digs per set16.7
65/84Aces/Service errors57/67
Dana Rettke, 120 (3.75 per set)Kills leaderStephanie Samedy, 178 (5.09 per set)
Sydney Hilley, 410 (12.06 per set)Assist leaderMelanie Shaffmaster, 388 (10.49 per set)
Lauren Barnes, 110 (3.24 per set)Digs leaderCC McGraw, 183 (4.82 per set)
 

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Not a great first set but Landfair played well. Hope we can rally in the upcoming sets. Go Gophers !
 

ClassOf98Gopher

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Not a great first set but Landfair played well. Hope we can rally in the upcoming sets. Go Gophers !
Well… we were never going to beat Wisconsin and wins versus Wisconsin in 2021 are not “the” marker of a good year for us.

When Rettke graduates, we should be in good shape versus Wisconsin.
 

Hrothgar

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Well… we were never going to beat Wisconsin and wins versus Wisconsin in 2021 are not “the” marker of a good year for us.

When Rettke graduates, we should be in good shape versus Wisconsin.
I thought the Gophers looked slow on the attack & generally inferior as though the program is plateauing rather than rising to beat the best. Wish I knew enough about VB to analyze why I felt that way watching the match. My opinion anyway.
 

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I thought the Gophers looked slow on the attack & generally inferior as though the program is plateauing rather than rising to beat the best. Wish I knew enough about VB to analyze why I felt that way watching the match. My opinion anyway.
I saw enough of those Kathryn Plummer (Stanford) games to know that: when you’re outgunned… you’re outgunned. Nothing can be done about that except wait until graduation.
 

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I saw enough of those Kathryn Plummer (Stanford) games to know that: when you’re outgunned… you’re outgunned. Nothing can be done about that except wait until graduation.
Or find some Kathryn Plummers of your own.
 

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The match with the Badgers went about how I expected it to. Ladies are still not really ready for the big time. It is what it is.
 

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Boy, I thought the ladies simply weren't ready for prime time. Based on this showing against Northwestern, they weren't even ready to take the court tonight. A bad Wildcat team is kicking the ladies' tails all over the court. Totally unacceptable.
 

ClassOf98Gopher

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The match with the Badgers went about how I expected it to. Ladies are still not really ready for the big time. It is what it is.
Well… they’re better than Rutgers. [Referring to Northwestern]
 




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