The Minnesota Golden Gophers volleyball team was picked to finish second in the Big Ten preseason coach’s poll, according to announcement on Wednesday, Aug. 18 by Big Ten officials.
Penn State was tabbed as the favorite to win the Big Ten by the coaches. Wisconsin and Ohio State were picked to finished third and fourth respectively, while Illinois and Purdue both received equal votes for fifth place. Michigan, Northwestern, Michigan State, Iowa and Indiana rounded out the predicted order in the coach’s poll.
Minnesota also had three players named to the Preseason All-Big Ten team, which was represented by players from six different squads. Senior Paula Gentil (Forteleaza Ceara’, Brazil) was named to the Preseason All-Big Ten team for the third straight year, while juniors Kelly Bowman (Maple Grove, Minn.) and Meredith Nelson (St. Croix Falls, Wis.) received the honors for the first time. Gentil and Penn State’s Sam Tortorello were the only players on this year’s Preseason All-Big Ten team to have been named to it three times.
Only two other teams had more then one player represented on the Preseason All-Big Ten team. Penn State had Kate Price, Cassy Salyer, Sam Tortorello and Kaleena Walters named to the team, and Ohio State had two players named to the team in Marissa Main and Ami Stevens. Rachel VanMeter (Illinois), Renata Dargan (Purdue) and Sheila Shaw (Wisconsin) were also named to the team.
Minnesota is coming off a 2004 season that saw it advance to its first National Championship in school history. The Golden Gophers won a school record (during the NCAA Era) 33 matches and finished tied for second in the Big Ten at 17-3. Minnesota has finished second or higher in Big Ten play in five of the six seasons.
The Golden Gophers will host their Alumni Match on Saturday, Aug. 27 at 7 p.m. Minnesota opens up the regular-season when it hosts the Diet Coke Classic on Sept. 2-3. The Golden Gophers will host North Dakota State on Friday, Sept. 2 at 7:30 p.m. to start the season, and will play Central Florida (at 12:30 p.m.) and Xavier (at 7:30 p.m.) on Saturday, Sept. 3. Minnesota also hosts No. 1 Nebraska on Monday, Sept. 5 at 1 p.m.