Gophers (and Badgers) Host Big Ten/Big 12 Challenge v TCU and Baylor (8-25 and 8-26)

Ignatius L Hoops

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Here's some info on TCU: (Keegan Cook kicks off the season facing the team that ended his last season at Washington)

By all accounts, TCU women’s coach Jason Williams is pretty mild mannered. He isn’t prone to animated lectures and barely raises his voice. He gets his point across without histrionics.

It all belies his past as a football player at Austin College.

Although there have been a time or two when Williams lets his football side come out. Just ask Audrey Nalls. In 2022, Williams’ first season at TCU after a longtime stint as an assistasnt at Baylor, Nalls went from underachieving to overwhelming, as evidenced by her first-team All-Big 12 selection.
“He didn’t try to change a whole lot of my style of play,” said Nalls, a fifth-year outside hitter from Waxahachie, Texas. “For him and me — and for the whole team — it was more like, if you’re a hitter, you are hitting high, and you’re breaking fingers.”

Williams confirmed the story.

“I put her on a no tip or roll rule,” he said. “I was like, ‘Audrey, you have a cannon. Why would you use a BB gun? Stop doing all this tip and roll crap and just crush balls and break fingers.’ ”

That simple, direct approach to the game helped TCU make one of the most remarkable turnarounds in Division I in 2022. After going 2-14 in Big 12 play in 2021, the Horned Frogs went a program-best 11-5 last season — 17-11 overall — and made it to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2016. They upset Washington before losing in the second round to Wisconsin.

[...]

Williams will find out right away where his team stands as, for the second consecutive season, the Horned Frogs will open the regular season with Friday against No. 7 preseason Minnesota and then No. 2 Wisconsin the next day. Both Big Ten clubs swept TCU last season.
 


What to expect from Baylor:

Despite being a team that consists of zero seniors for the first time in head coach Ryan McGuyre’s career, Baylor volleyball is aiming to rise to the top of the Big 12 standings in 2023.

The Bears are left with the daunting task of replacing both elite production and leadership following the graduations of All-Big 12 First Team members Kara McGhee, Lauren Harrison and Mallory Talbert. The burden will fall on the shoulders of a young roster that features six true freshmen.

“I’ve never had a team with no seniors, so leadership is a big team goal this year,” McGuyre said after the team’s first fall practice. “I love the leadership growth we’ve seen in the freshmen that are now sophomores, and then we have a special freshman class here that has really increased the energy.”

The freshman class is headlined by outside hitter Kyndal Stowers, a blue-chip recruit from Denton who was named Co-Big 12 Preseason Freshman of the Year.

The depth chart is crowded for outside hitters, as Stowers will be joined by junior Elise McGhee, who finished the 2022 season as second in total attempts on the Bears. Trailing McGhee is sophomore opposite hitter Allie Sczech, who won gold for Team USA at the 2023 Pan American Cup. Stowers is still expected to play an early role for the Bears.

“I loved being with her in the spring, and she definitely is a big part of our team for sure,” McGhee said. “All of our freshmen are awesome. I appreciate all the effort they’re giving. They’re such a joy. They’re so fun, and every single one of them is rising to the occasion.”

With the regular season approaching, McGhee said Stowers, Sczech and redshirt sophomore Riley Simpson are outside hitters to watch.

“I’m hoping that since our team is pretty young and I’m considered one of the oldest, that I will be a go-to hitter,” McGhee said. “But I feel like we have so many of those, like Kyndal, Allie Sczech, Riley; we have so many. And I feel like everyone has the opportunity to be a go-to hitter this year.”

On the back line, junior libero and defensive specialist Lauren Briseño is again set to anchor the team after finishing sixth in the Big 12 in digs last year. Briseño earned a spot on the USA Women’s Collegiate National Team and won gold in the Pan American Cup alongside Sczech, who earned All-Big 12 Second Team and All-Big 12 Rookie Team honors as a freshman in 2022.

McGuyre praised Briseño’s leadership this summer, and added that McGhee and junior middle blocker Ava Grace Haggard have stepped up as well.

With standout blockers Kara McGhee and Mallory Talbert no longer on the squad, Haggard, redshirt sophomore middle blocker Alicia Andrew and junior middle blocker Manuela Bibinbe are expected to compete for minutes. Bibinbe is entering her first year in the green and gold after transferring from Missouri State University-West Plains.

Lastly, setter sophomore Averi Carlson is primed for a huge season after leading the Big 12 in assists as a true freshman. Carlson also finished second on the team in digs, trailing Briseño. Her success aided in her being named Big 12 Freshman of the Year. She also was able to secure All-Big 12 First Team honors.

The Bears may be light on senior experience, but they’re equipped with returners and newcomers. McGuyre said he’s preaching the same mindset in practice day after day, regardless of how young the squad is.

“We want to know one way to play, and here we’re trying to win a national championship,” McGuyre said.
 


It took some work before the Gophers emerged with a four set victory over TCU. Grote came ready to play; but it took a while before Wucherer started to work and Landfair began accumulating positive stats. After dropping the first set, Minnesota dominated the middle two and the edged out TCU in the fourth.

Murr looked good and Landfair, at times, struggled receiving serve. Blocking went from weak to noticeable during the match.

Of note: Cook was three for three in challenges (I think). Schnichels still had the boot but wasn't using crutches. And the brace was back on Shaffmaster's right leg.

I caught the end of the Baylor/Badger match. Baylor should be a solid test tomorrow night.
 
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It took some work before the Gophers emerged with a four set victory over TCU. Grote came ready to play; but it took a while before Wucherer started to work and Landfair began accumulating positive stats. After dropping the first set, Minnesota dominated the middle two and the edged out TCU in the fourth.

Murr looked good and Landfair, at times, struggled receiving serve. Blocking went from weak to noticeable during the match.

Of note: Cook was three for three in challenges (I think). Schnichels still had the boot but wasn't using crutches. And the brace was back on Shaffmaster's right leg.

I caught the end of the Baylor/Badger match. Baylor should be a solid test tomorrow night.
Grote and Murr were outstanding. Murr is every bit as advertised in my opinion. She can dig dang near anything and her motor never stops. Grote is an absolute spark plug. Her energy had a big impact on the floor and she swung well. I could see her becoming a go to person if some of the other mainstays struggle.

Wucherer took a bit to get going, but she battled through it and by midway through the second set she seemed to have found her swing. I though Hanson had a very nice game, too. I think she has spring loaded legs - she can jump out of the gym.

Landfair struggled tonight at times. She seemed to be fighting the ball a bit on receiving, and TCU was clearly targeting her for serve. I would expect Baylor to do the same. The first set she really lacked intensity but seemed to pick it up midway through the second. There were some kills where she unleashed, and then others that were meh. She has all the tools to dominate, so hopefully it is a matter of getting the rust out.

Seeing Booth playing for Wisconsin was gross. Her departure was flat out weird.
 

The first set was worrisome. Glad our rodents shook things off and took care of business after that.
 

Shaffmaster's four kills were timely. Landfair had 5 receiving errors; the rest of the team had 4.
 

Spelled differently; pronounced the same:

Baylor's Elise McGhee is a 6'4" junior outside hitter posting 11 kills and 8 errors (.097) versus Wisconsin. She also committed 4 service errors.

Minnesota's Elise McGhie we know as a senior 5'10" setter with 2 assists and 1 dig versus TCU while playing in 3 of the four sets
 



I thought watching Shaff in person last night that she really upped her game from last season! Pretty big time. I was excited to see that. It was clear she has worked on areas her game has been critiqued regularly on. She and Murr definitely have a strong connection. Murr has that ability to give the energy/emotion I’ve wanted to see more from the Gopher’s in previous season. I want her to use that more and know it’s her team. Murr and Grote are phenomenal additions. Grote is going to be so fun to watch.

TCU is a solid club. That was a good challenge to start the season, and this looks like a very fun team to watch this season.

And they looked like they were having fun playing. 👏
 


It was "Hi, I'm PHOEBE AWOLEYE night at the Pav. Her 10 blocks and three kills helped push the Gophers to a sweep of Baylor 20, 21, 11. Wucherer, who needs no introduction led the way with 14 kills. Crowl provided 7 important kills and three blocks after replacing Grote. It was a much easier win than I anticipated and a fun night for all culminating with a Shaffmaster solo block eliciting an on court celebration.

Early in the first set Grote and Cook had some sideline conversations when Grote rotated out. I think, judging from Cooks hand gestures, the discussion was about positioning (that's the best I can interpret from the upper deck). Anyway, Crowl came in and played well. Grote returned late in the third set.

OF NOTE: Schnichles (boot), Minatee and Palabiyik were there; but unavailable
 




Overall impressive weekend, especially considering Landfair's lackluster play. The depth is there to make up for it. With the upcoming schedule though it will be risky having her play 6ro. Murr is an upgrade in the backcourt; all the transfers have been better than expected!

Thought TCU might pull the upset after the first set, but responded by handling Baylor with relative ease. Parra for TCU will be an absolute beast if she finds more consistency.
 


This whole thread should be merged into the 2023 season thread.

It wasn’t some one-off exhibition thing. It was literally the first weekend of the regular season.

We should not be having separate threads and discussion for each match.
 

This whole thread should be merged into the 2023 season thread.

It wasn’t some one-off exhibition thing. It was literally the first weekend of the regular season.

We should not be having separate threads and discussion for each match.

Match threads are one of the features of a dedicated volleyball board
 

You’re right, I revert my previous statement.

On the football board we of course have separate threads for each game. Carry on
 




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