The Minnesota volleyball team heads to South Bend, Ind. to open up the 2007 season against Notre Dame. The Golden Gophers will be starting their season on the road for the fourth time in five years. The Fighting Irish are receiving 86 votes in the CSTV/AVCA Top 25 to unofficially rank them as the 29th team in the rankings. Notre Dame was also selected to win the Big East in the preseason coaches poll, receiving eight of the 15 first-place votes. Last year, the Fighting Irish made the NCAA Tournament and were knocked out in the first round by Wisconsin. Minnesota and Notre Dame have not faced each other since the Fighting Irish knocked off the Golden Gophers in the 1993 NCAA Regional Semifinals at Williams Arena.
Minnesota is 8-3 in season openers, and has the same record in road openers under current head coach Mike Hebert. The Golden Gophers have won three straight season-opening contests, and are on a three-game winning streak in road-openers as well. Last year, Minnesota defeated St. Louis on the road in the Billiken Classic to get the 2006 season started. The Golden Gophers last loss in a season opener came at No. 2 Hawai’i in 2003. Minnesota has also won season openers against North Dakota State at home (2005), at No. 11 Colorado State (2004), at home against No. 8 Pepperdine (2002), in Reno, Nev. against Kent State (2000), at St. Mary’s (Calif.) (1999), home against Wisconsin-Green Bay (1998) and in Las Cruces, N.M. against TCU (1997). Minnesota’s season-opening losses have come against Hawai’i (2003), in a neutral-site matchup against No. 10 Stanford in Charlottesville, Va. (2001) and against No. 10 San Diego State in Mike Hebert’s coaching debut on Aug. 30, 1996.
Once again, the Golden Gophers will tackle a tough non-conference schedule to prepare for Big Ten play. Minnesota will face five different NCAA Tournament teams from last year, and four teams that appeared in the top 25 of the preseason poll. Minnesota starts out the season at Notre Dame on Aug. 24. Last year, the Fighting Irish appeared in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Notre Dame has also received 86 votes in the top preseason top 25. Minnesota returns home to host the most competitive field in the history of the Diet Coke Classic on Aug. 31-Sept. 2. The Golden Gophers will start the tournament against Ohio University on Aug. 31. The Bobcats advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2006, and are ranked No. 25 in the preseason top 25. Minnesota will face 2006 NCAA Tournament runner-up Stanford on Sept. 1 in the Diet Coke Classic. The Cardinal are ranked No. 2 in the preseason top 25. In the their third match of the Diet Coke Classic, the Golden Gophers will face 2006 NCAA Regional Semifinalist San Diego. The Toreros enter the season ranked No. 15 in the preseason top 25. Minnesota will also hit the road to face California on Sept. 8. The Golden Bears advanced to the 2006 NCAA Regional Semifinals, and are ranked No. 12 in the preseason poll. Last year, Minnesota was the only team in the nation to face the top two programs in the nation four times. The Golden Gophers faced No. 1 Nebraska during the regular-season, and during the NCAA Regional Finals. Minnesota also faced Penn State twice while the Nittany Lions were No. 2.
Minnesota’s Alumni Match is set for Aug. 26. The Golden Gophers will return home from the their season opener at Notre Dame on Aug. 24, and will face the program’s alumni at 1 p.m. on Aug. 26. Minnesota’s alumni will include Bethany Albrecht, Jean Boerboom, Kelly Bowman, Jen Bowman, Stephanie Chapek, Krista Doyle, Karen Gates, Erica Glaser, Debra Hegerle, Gail Mooney, Christine Podraza, Karyn Polland, Lindsey Taatjes and Yvonne Van Oort. Pam Dombeck, Moninka Getchell, Stacy Godwin-Lemke and Kathy Kramer will also be in attendance, but will not play in the match.
Minnesota will host one of the most competitive Diet Coke Classic fields in the history of the tournament. The Golden Gophers will welcome No. 2 Stanford, No. 15 San Diego and No. 25 Ohio University to the tournament. It will mark the first time that all four teams in the tournament are ranked. Minnesota hosted a similar field in 2004 when it was ranked No. 5, and hosted No. 4 Florida, No. 15 Kansas State and Northern Iowa. The tournament’s first match will feature Stanford against San Diego on Friday, Aug. 31 at 5 p.m. Minnesota will face Ohio University in its first match of the Diet Coke Classic. San Diego will face Ohio University on Saturday, Sept. 1 at 1 p.m. Minnesota will face Stanford in a rematch of the 2004 National Championship on Sept. 1 at 3:30 p.m. The Golden Gophers will play the first match of the day on Sunday, Sept. 2 when they face San Diego at 1:30 p.m. The final match of the tournament will feature Stanford against Ohio University at 4 p.m. Minnesota has claimed the Diet Coke Classic the last five years.
Minnesota senior Kelly Roysland will continue her career as a Golden Gopher, only she will move from playing women’s basketball to volleyball. Last year, Roysland played in her senior season with the Minnesota women’s basketball program. Due to the fact that she graduated in four years, she still had one year of eligibility left in another sport. Roysland, who was a 2002 Minnesota Ms. Volleyball honoree in high school the same year that Kelly Bowman and Malama Peniata were seniors, decided to switch over to volleyball. She started playing in the spring, and will be in the mix as one of the Golden Gophers’ defensive specialists this year. Roysland is only the sixth Golden Gopher to play women’s basketball and volleyball, and is the first to do so since 1979. Cindy Kommers, who played volleyball in 1975 & 76 and basketball in 1979, is the last player to be part of both programs. Roysland advanced to the NCAA Tournament in three of her four years with the Minnesota basketball program, and was part of the 2003-04 Final Four team that included Lindsey Whalen and Janel McCarville.