The Minnesota volleyball team's 2011 home and conference schedules have been finalized. The Gophers will host seven different teams that played in the regional round in the 2010 NCAA Tournament, along with playing host to the 2011 NCAA Regionals at the Sports Pavilion.
Minnesota's first home weekend of the 2011 season will take place on Friday, Sept 2 and Saturday, Sept. 3 when the Gophers will face 2010 Final Four participant Texas in two matches in the Diet Coke Classic. Those two matches will be the only two non-conference contests for Minnesota at the Sports Pavilion.
The Gophers will open up Big Ten play against 2010 NCAA Regional Semifinal participant Illinois on Friday, Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. Minnesota will also 2010 NCAA Second Round participant Northwestern on Sunday, Sept. 25 at 1 p.m. that same week.
Following a four-match road trip at Ohio State (Sept. 30), Penn State (Oct. 1), Michigan (Oct. 7) and Michigan State (Oct. 8), the Gophers will host Iowa on Friday, Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. Minnesota will then move over to Williams Arena for one night, on Saturday, Oct. 15 at 7 p.m., where it will host 2010 NCAA Regional Semifinal participant Nebraska in the first ever conference meeting between the two programs.
Minnesota will then head to Wisconsin on Wednesday, Oct. 19, followed by a trip to 2010 NCAA Regional Finalist Purdue on Saturday, Oct. 22. The Gophers will finish the four-match road trip at Northwestern on Friday, Oct. 28 and at Illinois on Saturday, Oct. 29.
In a rematch of the defending four-time National Champions final loss of the 2010 season, the Gophers will host Penn State on Friday, Nov. 4 at 7 p.m. Minnesota will also host 2010 NCAA Regional Semifinal participant Ohio State on Saturday, Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. The Gophers will host Michigan State on Wednesday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. and 2010 NCAA Tournament participant Michigan on Sunday, Nov. 13 at 1 p.m.
The Gophers make their first trip as a conference opponent to Nebraska on Wednesday, Nov. 16, and will also face Iowa on Saturday, Nov. 19.
Minnesota will wrap up the 2011 home slate against border rival Wisconsin on Wednesday, Nov. 23 at 7 p.m. and will also host 2010 NCAA Regional Semifinal participant Indiana on Senior Day on Friday, Nov. 25 at 7 p.m.
The Gophers will also host the NCAA Regionals at the Sports Pavilion for the third time since 2004 on Dec. 9-10.
Minnesota returns nine letterwinners from the 2010 team that finished 26-9 overall, tied for second in the Big Ten at 14-6 and was ranked No. 10 in the final AVCA Top 25. The Gophers will also welcome back senior Hailey Cowles who was granted a fifth year after missing the 2010 season with an ACL injury.