Minnesota will continue its current four-match roadtrip when it travels to No. 1 Penn State and Indiana this week. The Golden Gophers will face the top-ranked Nittany Lions on Friday, Oct. 31 at 6 p.m. (CT). Minnesota will then head to Bloomington to face Indiana on Saturday, Nov. 1 at 6 p.m. (CT). Penn State enters the week with a 22-0 overall record and is in first place in the Big Ten at 10-0. The Nittany Lions are currently on a 35-match Big Ten winning streak and have won 48 straight matches dating back to the beginning of the 2007 season. Penn State has also won all 66 sets against its opposition this year. Indiana is 12-10 overall, and is in eighth place in the Big Ten at 4-6. The Golden Gophers enter the week with an 18-4 overall record, and 8-2 in Big Ten play.
Minnesota currently sits in second place at 8-2 in Big Ten play. The Golden Gophers have finished the first half of the conference schedule with an 8-2 or better record six times under Mike Hebert. Minnesota went 9-1 in the first half of the Big Ten season in 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2006. The Golden Gophers started 8-2 in 1999 and 2003, along with this year. Minnesota’s best record in the second half of Big Ten play came in 1993 when it went 9-1. The Golden Gophers also went 8-2 in the second half in 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2006.
Minnesota is currently leading the Big Ten in digs per set and is second in blocks per set. The Golden Gophers have 2.96 blps and 17.53 dps. Minnesota trails Penn State in blocks (3.24-to-2.96), and has a fairly wide margin in digs over Illinois, who is second in the conference at 17.53-to-15.64. The Golden Gophers are also second in the Big Ten opposing hitting percentage at .146. Penn State leads the Big Ten in opponent hitting percentage at .065. Penn State (1992, 93, 94, 96) and Iowa (1988) are the only teams in the history of the Big Ten to finish the year leading the conference in both blocks and digs.
Minnesota has played the most matches against ranked opposition, and is tied for the second-most victories against ranked opponents among teams in the top 25. The Golden Gophers have faced nine ranked teams this year, while Illinois, Stanford, USC and Washington are tied for second with eight matches against ranked opposition. Minnesota’s six victories are tied for second with Stanford, while Penn State leads the nation with seven victories over ranked opponents. Minnesota’s wins against ranked teams have come against No. 21 LSU, No. 4 California, No. 16 Cal Poly, No. 18 Wisconsin, No. 19 Illinois and No. 18 Purdue. The Golden Gophers three losses have come to No. 11 Hawai’i, No. 1 Penn State and No. 20 Michigan. Minnesota has faced a ranked team in seven of the nine weekends it has competed this year. With the Golden Gophers’ matchup against No. 1 Penn State this week, that will become eight of 10 weeks.
As of Oct. 26, Minnesota is the only school in the nation to be in the top 10 nationally among blocks and digs. The Golden Gophers are fourth in the nation in blocks at 2.96 blps and are ninth in digs at 17.53 dps. Minnesota leads the Big Ten in digs per set as a team, and is second in blocks to Penn State who leads the nation. The 1994 Penn State squad is the only team in the last 15 years to finish in the top 10 nationally in both blocks and digs at the end of a season. The Golden Gophers also finished fourth in the nation last year, and averaged a school-record 3.54 blps. DIETER HEATING UP IN CONFERENCE PLAY
Brook Dieter averaged 5.83 kps, 2.83 dps and 1.33 blps as she continued her strong play in Big Ten action this year. Dieter led the team in kills and blocks on the week, and was second in digs. In Big Ten play, she is averaging 4.47 kps, 3.24 dps and 0.88 blps. Dieter leads the team in kills in Big Ten play, and is second in both digs and blocks. She is third in kills, second in points and ninth in digs in Big Ten play. Dieter also enters this week’s matchup with Penn State, as the player with the highest kill total against the Nittany Lions this year at 13.