The Minnesota volleyball team has announced the 2008 season schedule according to Minnesota Head Coach Mike Hebert.
Minnesota will face 10 teams that made to the NCAA Tournament last year, including four non-conference opponents.
The Golden Gophers will start out the season when they travel to Omaha to compete in the Creighton Invitational with Creighton, 2007 NCAA Second Round participant LSU and Texas A&M on Aug. 29-30. Creighton will be hosting the same field of teams that opened up the 2006 season at St. Louis. In that tournament, the Golden Gophers, Aggies and Tigers were in the field with the Billikens.
Minnesota will then travel to Honolulu to compete in the Waikiki Beach Marriott Volleyball Challenge. The Golden Gophers will join 2007 NCAA Second Round participant Hawai’i, Cincinnati and Wyoming in that field on Sept. 4-6. Minnesota will face Hawai’i on Sept. 4, and Cincinnati and Wyoming on Sept. 6.
The Golden Gophers will open up their home schedule when they welcome 2007 Final Four participant California, 2007 NCAA Regional Semifinalist Cal Poly and Notre Dame to the Diet Coke Classic on Sept. 12-14. They will also host North Carolina, TCU and Winthrop to the Gopher Invitational on Sept. 19-20 to close out the non-conference schedule.
Minnesota opens Big Ten play at home against Northwestern on Friday, Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. The Golden Gophers will follow that match by hosting Wisconsin on Saturday, Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. Minnesota’s first Big Ten road weekend will see the Golden Gophers head to Illinois on Oct. 3 and Purdue on Oct. 4.
The Golden Gophers will welcome Indiana to the Sports Pavilion on Oct. 10. The following night, Minnesota will host the defending national champion Penn State Nittany Lions at Williams Arena on Saturday, Oct. 11 at 7 p.m.
After wrapping up a four-match home stand against Iowa (Oct. 15) and Michigan State (Oct. 17), the Golden Gophers will make the return trip to Penn State on Oct. 31. That will be part of a four-match road swing that will see Minnesota also face Ohio State (Oct. 24), Michigan (Oct. 25) and Indiana (Nov. 1).
Minnesota will return home to face Purdue on Friday, Nov. 7 and Illinois on Sunday, Nov. 9. Following the brief home weekend, the Golden Gophers will head to Madison to face Wisconsin on Friday, Nov. 14.
The Golden Gophers will wrap up their home schedule when they face Michigan on Friday, Nov. 21 and Ohio State in the final home match of the year on Saturday, Nov. 22. They will wrap up the Big Ten season on the road at Iowa (Nov. 26) and Michigan State (Nov. 29).
Minnesota will play against seven different teams who finished in the top 25 in last year’s final CSTV/AVCA Top 25 poll.
The Golden Gophers return eight letterwinners from last year’s quad that advanced to the NCAA Tournament for a ninth straight season, went 18-13 and finished tied for third in the Big Ten at 11-9.
That group includes Honorable-Mention All-Region performer Brook Dieter (Bloomington, Minn.), Big Ten All-Freshman Team honoree Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minn.), senior setter Rachel Hartmann (St. Charles, Ill.) and junior libero Christine Tan (Palm Harbor, Fla.). Other returning letterwinners include Hailey Cowles (Eden Prairie, Minn.), Kyla Roehrig (Papillion, Neb.), Kelly Schmidt (Champaign, Ill.) and Katie Vatterrodt (Bloomington, Ill.)
Minnesota also welcomes five newcomers to the program. The Golden Gophers welcome a pair of national ranked recruits in setter Alex Blatt (Orland Park, Ill.), who was No. 22 according to prepvolleyball.com, and middle blocker Ariana Filho (Monument, Colo.), who was No. 24. Minnesota also welcomes defensive standout Jessica Granquist (Blaine, Minn.) and two-time junior college All-American Pamela Luiz (Limeira, Brazil) to the team.