Minnesota will host the Gopher Invitational on Sept. 19-20. The field for tournament will include North Carolina, TCU and Winthrop. The Golden Gophers will face TCU on Friday, Sept. 19 at 7:30 p.m. Minnesota will also take on Winthrop on Saturday, Sept. 20 at 12:30 p.m. and North Carolina at 7:30 p.m. All three matches can be heard on gophersports.com. The Golden Gophers enter the week ranked No. 8 in the nation, and are 8-1 overall.
The Gopher Invitational will be an eventful weekend on and off the court. Off the court, Minnesota will honor USA Men’s Volleyball Olympic Gold Medal Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon in between sets two and three on Friday, Sept. 19. The program will also honor 1987 World Series MVP Frank Viola prior to the match against North Carolina on Saturday, Sept. 20. In between sets two and three, Minnesota will honor 2008 USA Women’s Volleyball Olympic Silver Medalist and former Golden Gophers Lindsey Berg in between sets two and three of the Minnesota-North Carolina match. Viola, whose daughter Kaley plays for Winthrop, will sign autographs for 20 minutes following the TCU-Winthrop match. Berg will sign autographs following Minnesota’s match against North Carolina.
Minnesota junior libero Christine Tan had 43 digs last week to move her career total to 974. Tan has collected that total in just 74 career matches. She needs just 26 digs to become the 14th Golden Gophers in school history to reach the mark. Last year, Tan had 517 digs in a season to join Malama Peniata and Paula Gentil as the only Golden Gophers to have 500 or more digs in a season. Tan would become the sixth player, who played a full career for Mike Hebert at Minnesota, to record 1,000 career digs. That list includes Kelly Bowman, Nicole Branagh, Gentil, Malama Peniata and Lindsey Taatjes.
This past week, Minnesota more then doubled its opponents blocks 28.0-to-13.0. The Golden Gophers averaged 2.80 blocks per set, while their opponents had 1.30 blps. Overall this year, Minnesota has outblocked its opposition 90.0-to-33.0, and averaged 2.90 blps to 1.06 for the opposition. In its four matches against ranked opponents, the Golden Gopher have outblocked their opponents 47.0-to-23.0 (3.13 blps-to-1.53 blps). If you calculate individual player blocks with the same formula as team blocks. Lauren Gibbemeyer has only five less blocks then Minnesota's opponents with 28.0 to the 33.0 that the Golden Gophers opposition has this year.
After defeating No. 4 California and No. 16 Cal Poly this week in the Diet Coke Classic, Minnesota has now knocked off three ranked opponents this season. The Golden Gophers other victory came over No. 21 LSU in the Bluejay Invitational. The three non-conference victories over ranked opposition are the most since 2004 when Minnesota defeated four ranked teams in non-conference play (No. 4 Florida, No. 15 Kansas State, No. 11 Colorado State and No. 4 Penn State). The Golden Gophers' victory over No. 4 California also matched its highest ranked victory in school history. Minnesota had defeated the No. 4 team on three previous occasions. Those came on Dec. 12, 2003 when the Golden Gophers defeated Pepperdine in the NCAA Regional Semifinals, on Sept. 11, 2004 when Minnesota defeated Florida in the Diet Coke Classic and Oct. 2, 2004 when the Golden Gophers won against Penn State on the road.