Minnesota will finish its Big Ten slate with a pair of road matches against No. 22 Purdue and Indiana. The Golden Gophers will play the Boilermakers on Friday, Nov. 24 at 6 p.m. (CT), and finish up their Big Ten campaign against the Hoosiers on Saturday, Nov. 25 at 6 p.m. Minnesota enters the week with a 21-7 overall record, and has won 19 of its last 22 matches since starting 2-4. The Golden Gophers also sit in solo possession of second place at 15-3 in Big Ten play. Minnesota is one match behind No. 5 Penn State at 16-2, and one match ahead of No. 11 Wisconsin who is in third place at 14-4. Purdue enters the match with a 21-8 overall record, and is tied for fourth place with an 11-7 record. Indiana is 10-20 overall, and sits in 11th place in the Big Ten with a 1-17 conference record.
Minnesota is 19-3 since starting out the season 2-4. The Golden Gophers’ only three losses in that stretch have come at the hands of No. 3 Penn State (twice) and at Michigan. During the 22-match stretch, Minnesota is holding its opponents to a .151 hitting percentage. The Golden Gophers also have 16.29 kpg to 13.18 kpg for their opposition. They are also averaging 1.80 sapg to 1.10 sapg, and 3.01 blpg. Meredith Nelson has 3.39 kpg, is hitting .321 and has 1.00 blpg in that stretch. Kyla Roehrig has 3.15 kpg in the same stretch, while Jessy Jones has 1.31 blpg. Rachel Hartmann has 12.82 apg and 0.81 blpg, while Malama Peniata has 5.51 dpg.
Minnesota needs just one win to clinch at least a tie for second place in the Big Ten. If the Golden Gophers finish in second place it would mark the sixth time in eight years they have finished second or higher in conference play. Penn State leads the way with six second place or higher finishes (including four Big Ten titles) since 1999. Minnesota and Wisconsin are both tied with five or more second place or higher finishes in Big Ten play since 1999. Ohio State has done it twice, while Illinois has done it once. Penn State will most likely finish first and can finish no lower then second. Minnesota would just need one win to clinch a tie for second, while Wisconsin would need to win both matches and have the Golden Gophers lose one to tie for second.
The Golden Gophers are just two wins from tying their best record in Big Ten play in school history. Minnesota enters the week with a 15-3 conference record, and needs to win against both No. 22 Purdue and Indiana to match its best Big Ten mark. Minnesota has finished 17-3 in three different season. The first time came in 2000 when the Golden Gophers finished in second place. Minnesota won its first Big Ten title in 2002 with a 17-3 conference record. The Golden Gophers also finished second, and advanced to the National title match in 2004 when they finished 17-3 in Big Ten play.
The Golden Gophers enter their final two matches of the season in sole possession of second place in the Big Ten with a 15-3 record. Wisconsin is one match behind Minnesota at 14-4. Penn State is in first place at 16-2. Purdue and Ohio State are tied for fourth place at 11-7. The following is a breakdown of the remaining schedules for the top three teams in the Big Ten:
Minn. (15-3) Wis. (14-4) PSU (16-2)
at Pur. at Ind. ILL
at Ind. at Pur. NU