Minnesota will have one road match and one home match in Big Ten play this week. The Golden Gophers will start the week off at Iowa on Wednesday, Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. Minnesota will return home to finish the week against No. 11 Michigan at the Sports Pavilion on Sunday, Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. The Golden Gophers enter the week ranked No. 12 in the nation, are 9-3 overall and come into the week as one of three undefeated teams in the conference. Iowa is 8-5 overall, and enters the week with a 0-2 Big Ten record. Michigan is 13-1 overall, and brings a 1-1 Big Ten mark into the week. Minnesota’s match against Iowa will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network (channel 220 on DiRECTV).
Minnesota is 8-3 in Big Ten road openers under current head coach Mike Hebert. The Golden Gophers won the first seven Big Ten road openers under Hebert, before dropping the next three. Last year, Minnesota opened up the Big Ten season with a five-game road victory at Northwestern. The Golden Gophers other Big Ten road opener victories under Hebert came in 1996 (at Iowa), 1997 (at Indiana), 1998 (at Iowa), 1999 (at Iowa), 2000 (at Penn State), 2001 (at Iowa) and 2002 (at Wisconsin). Minnesota’s Big Ten road opener losses came at Indiana (2003), at Ohio State (2004) and at Wisconsin (2005).
After defeating Purdue and Indiana this past week, Minnesota has now won 22 of its last 25 matches (22-3) dating back to the end of the 2005 Big Ten season. In 2005, the Golden Gophers defeated Ohio State, Illinois and Purdue to finish the season. Last year Minnesota went 17-3 in Big Ten play, and this year the Golden Gophers have gone 2-0. Penn State, who has gone 23-2 in that span, is the only team in the Big Ten with a better record in the last 25 matches. Wisconsin is third at 21-4, Ohio State is fourth at 16-9, Purdue is fifth at 14-11, Northwestern is sixth at 11-14, Michigan State is seventh at 10-15, Michigan is eighth at 9-16, Illinois is ninth at 8-17, while Iowa and Indiana are tied for 10th at 2-23.
With wins over Purdue and Indiana this past week, Minnesota started out Big Ten play 2-0. The Golden Gophers were joined by Penn State and Wisconsin as the only teams that escaped the first week undefeated. It marks the seventh time under current head coach Mike Hebert that Minnesota has started out 2-0 in conference play. The Golden Gophers started 2-0 in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2006 and this year. In six of those seven years, Minnesota has finished second or higher in Big Ten play with 2001 being the only exception. The Golden Gophers best start came in 1999 when they started the conference campaign 7-0 on the way to finishing 15-5.
After starting out 1-2, Minnesota has won eight of its last nine contests. In that span, the Golden Gophers have defeated then No. 12 San Diego, Eastern Kentucky, Utah State, Charlotte, Wisconsin-Green Bay, Creighton, Purdue and Iowa. Minnesota’s only loss in that span came at No. 10 California. During that stretch, the Golden Gophers have averaged 16.24 kpg to the opposition’s 12.10. Minnesota has also hit .264 and limited its opponents to a .105 hitting percentage. The Golden Gophers are outblocking the opposition 3.45 to 1.97 blpg in the same span. Individually, Brook Dieter has averaged 4.59 kpg, while Kyla Roehrig has 3.96 kpg. Rachel Hartmann has 13.07 apg, while Christine Tan and Kelly Roysland are averaging 4.48 and 3.12 dpg respectively.