Aug. 12, 2013
The University of Minnesota volleyball program begins the 2013 season as the sixth-ranked team in the nation, announced today by the American Volleyball Coaches Association. The last time Minnesota held a sixth-place preseason ranking dates back to 2010 after Minnesota came off a 2009 Final Four appearance.
Defending national champion Texas leads the poll, followed by Penn State, Stanford, Southern California and Washington. Seven Big Ten Conference teams are listed in the top 25, including the Nittany Lions, the Golden Gophers, Michigan (7) and Nebraska (10) in the top 10. Michigan State (14), Purdue (16) and Ohio State (23) are also ranked, while Illinois and Wisconsin received votes.
Along with the ranked conference opponents, Minnesota will face two ranked non-conference teams. The Golden Gophers face No. 19 Louisville on Sept. 13 and No. 17 Kentucky on Sept. 14 in the Bluegrass Battle in Lexington, Ky.
The Gophers, under second-year head coach Hugh McCutcheon, finished the 2012 season with a 27-8 record and an Elite Eight appearance. Minnesota went 15-5 in conference play, good enough for a share of second place. The Gophers return senior starters Tori Dixon, Alexandra Palmer and Ashley Wittman, along with sophomore starter Daly Santana.
Minnesota opens the 2013 campaign on Aug. 30-31, at the UAB/Samford Challenge in Birmingham, Ala. The Golden Gophers open the home season, Sept. 6-7, hosting Ball State, Duke and Western Illinois as a part of the Diet Coke Classic. All home matches will be played at the Sports Pavilion on the University of Minnesota campus.
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