Minnesota will try to snap a seven-match losing streak when it hosts Iowa at the Sports Pavilion on Wednesday, Oct. 31 at 6:05 p.m. That match will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network (DiRecTV Channel 220). The Golden Gophers will follow that up with a trip to Michigan on Friday, Nov. 2 at 6 p.m. (CT). Iowa, who has lost eight straight matches, enters the week with a 9-14 overall record and is in 11th place at 1-11 overall. Michigan, who is currently on a three-match losing streak, is 17-7 overall and has a 5-7 Big Ten record. Minnesota enters the week with a 12-10 overall record, and is also in a six-way tie with the Wolverines for fifth in the Big Ten at 5-7. Michigan is coming off losses against Northwestern and Michigan State this past week, while the Golden Gophers and Hawkeyes each lost to Ohio State and No. 2 Penn State last week.
Minnesota dropped out of the top 25 for the first time since Sept. 25, 2006, snapping a stretch of 19 straight weeks that the Golden Gophers had been ranked. It is only the eighth time in the last 90 weeks that Minnesota has not been in the top 25. The Golden Gophers have usually played themselves back into the rankings quickly during that timeframe, as they have gone 13-3 overall in that span as an unranked team. Minnesota defeated No. 8 Pepperdine and lost in four games to No. 1 Stanford in 2002 when it started off the season unranked. In 2003, the Golden Gophers were unranked from Sept. 29 to Oct. 13. In that stretch, Minnesota went 6-0 as it defeated Northwestern, Illinois, Iowa, No. 21 Wisconsin, Ohio State and No. 13 Penn State. Last year, the Golden Gophers were unranked from Sept. 4 to Sept. 25, and went 6-2 with wins over No. 25 Cal Poly, UConn, Tulane, Dayton, Northwestern and Illinois. Its only losses in that stretch came to No. 1 Nebraska and Louisville.
Since 2002, Minnesota is 39-13 in the second half of the Big Ten season. The Golden Gophers have started the second half 0-2 this year. Minnesota was 8-2 in 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2006. The Golden Gophers were also 7-3 in 2003 in the second half of the year. Minnesota has home matches remaining against Iowa, Northwestern and Michigan State. The Golden Gophers also have road matches against Michigan, Indiana, Purdue, Illinois and Wisconsin remaining.
Minnesota senior middle blocker Jessy Jones had eight blocks this past week to move to 427 for her career. That total puts Jones seven blocks away from tying Dawn Thompson (1987-90) for fifth on the Gophers’ all-time blocks list. Jones is currently sixth on the list, three blocks behind Lori Miller (1986-1989) for sixth on the list at 430.
Minnesota enters this week with an average of 3.39 blpg. The Golden Gophers are on pace to surpass their record for blocks per game, which was set in 2000 when they averaged 3.29 blpg. Minnesota has not averaged over 3.00 blocks per game since 2000. In fact, 1999 and 2000 are the only years in school history that the Golden Gophers have averaged more then 3.00 blocks per game as a team. Minnesota has kept blocks per game as a stat since the 1983 season.