There isn’t a much more challenging weekend trip in the Big Ten than the Hawkeyes will face starting tonight. Iowa travels to Minneapolis to play the #3 ranked Golden Gophers and then get a day to catch their breath before heading over to Madison to face the #9 ranked Badgers on Sunday afternoon.
Last week the Hawkeyes traveled to New Jersey and defeated Rutgers in three sets and then came home and dropped a heartbreaker to Purdue, three sets to two. Iowa is currently 12-7 overall, 4-4 in conference and are receiving votes in the latest AVCA Coaches Volleyball Rankings.
Minnesota is on a nine-match winning streak and is undefeated in Big Ten play at 8-0. Iowa will come into the match as a heavy underdog but will have a chance to make a big statement regarding their postseason chances.
The Gophers don’t just have one player to key on as they have no player in the top five in kills in the league. However, they do lead the conference in hitting as a team with a .303 percentage on the season. By comparison, Iowa is hitting .237 and the Gophers will key their blockers on Taylor Louis and Cali Hoye.
The Gophers play at home vs Nebraska on Saturday so perhaps they will overlook Iowa on Friday night and allow them to make the match competitive.
The trip to Madison on Sunday won’t be much easier, especially since the Badgers will have revenge on the minds as the Hawkeye victory over Wisconsin from a couple weeks ago in Iowa City will still be fresh in their heads. The Badgers are led by middle hitter Dana Rettke who is among the conference leaders in hitting percentage, kills, and blocks.
After this trip, the Hawkeyes will be at home for four of their next five matches (although two of those include Nebraska and Penn State, both ranked in the top five) so the chances will be there to add to their postseason resume.
There are three quality volleyball games on the Big Ten Network on Friday and Saturday night if you are interested in expanding your knowledge of some of the other Big Ten opponents.