Oct. 19, 2011
Watch Wednesday's match live in Gopher All-Access
The No. 14 University of Minnesota volleyball program has another week of travel upon it as the Golden Gophers travel to Wisconsin, Oct. 19 and then No. 11 Purdue, Oct. 22. Wednesday's match will be at 7 p.m., while Saturday's match is at 6 p.m. in West Lafayette.
Minnesota is 41-26 all-time against Wisconsin, dating back to 1975. The Golden Gophers have won the last six contests between the two schools, however, the last time the Gophers lost to the Badgers dated back to 2007 in Wisconsin in straight sets.
The Golden Gophers visited Madison, Wis., on Nov. 19, 2010 and defeated the Badgers in three sets. Ranked 19th at the time, Minnesota visited the Wisconsin Fieldhouse and won, 25-18, 25-11, 25-22. The Maroon and Gold were led by then-senior Lauren Gibbemeyer who had 11 kills, hit .435 (11-1-23) and had a match-high four blocks. Ashley Wittman had 10 kills, seven digs and three blocks.
Wisconsin enters the Minnesota match with a 12-8 overall record and a 4-4 mark in Big Ten Conference play. Already this season, the Badgers are just one win away from tying their conference win record a year ago, which was 5-15 and 16-15 overall. In Big Ten Conference matches, Wisconsin ranks sixth in hitting percentage (.221), second in kills (14.04 per set) and second in digs (16.30). Crystal Graff leads the team with 158 kills, averaging 2.59 kills per set. Alexis Mitchell and Courtney Thomas each have 148 kills, while Ellen Chapman has 146 kills.
At this point last year, Minnesota was ranked 20th on Oct. 18, 2010 after it fell to Penn State and Ohio State on the road. Last year, the Gophers were 4-4 in conference play, tied for fifth in the league standings and held a 14-6 overall record. Minnesota would fall to Illinois and defeat Wisconsin at this point last year as the Illini were ranked No. 6 in the country.
The NCAA released the Division I RPI and Minnesota is fourth overall in the nation. Like the AVCA poll, Illinois ranks first as the only undefeated team in the country at 19-0 (6-0 road, 4-0 neutral, 9-0 home). Nebraska, the Gophers' last opponent, ranks second with a 15-1 overall mark, while Iowa State is ranked third (15-3). Of the top 10 teams in the RPI standings, Minnesota has faced five of the teams already this season. Along with Illinois, Nebraska and Minnesota, the Big Ten Conference has a total of six ranked in the top 20 RPI. Michigan is ranked 15th overall, Purdue is ranked 16th, Penn State at 19.