Minnesota Volleyball To Travel to Albany for First and Second Rounds of NCAA Tournament
The Minnesota volleyball team (23-7) will head to Albany, N.Y. for the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday, Nov. 30 and Friday, Dec. 1. Minnesota will face Siena (22-12) out of the MAAC on Thursday, Nov. 30 at 5 p.m. (CT).
Host Albany (19-12), out of the America East, will play St. John’s in the first round on the other side of the bracket on Nov. 30 at 7 p.m. (CT). The winners of the two first round matches will play on Friday, Dec. 1 at 6 p.m. (CT).
Minnesota was seeded No. 2 in the Gainesville Regional, and received the No. 8 overall seed in the tournament. The No. 8 seed marked the third time in five years that the Golden Gophers have been seeded among top eight national seeds in the NCAA Tournament. Minnesota was a No. 7 seed in 2002 and a No. 4 seed in 2004. The Golden Gophers were also a No. 13 national seed in 2003.
Nebraska was named the No. 1 seed overall in the NCAA Tournament, and the No. 1 seed in the Gainesville Regional. Florida, who will host the regional if they advance, is the No. 3 seed in the region, and No. 9 overall in the tournament. San Diego is the No. 4 seed in the regional, and the No. 16 seed in the tournament.
It marks the third straight year the Golden Gophers have traveled for the first round of the NCAA Tournament. In 2004, Minnesota received a No. 1 regional seed, but traveled to New Haven, Conn. to face Long Island and Yale. Last year, the Golden Gophers traveled to Knoxville, Tenn. where they faced Winthrop and host Tennessee in the second round.
Minnesota finished the regular season 23-7, and was second place in the Big Ten. The 17-3 record tied the Golden Gophers best conference record in school history. Minnesota also finished 17-3 in 2000, 2002 and 2004. The Golden Gophers finished second or higher in the Big Ten for the sixth time in the last eight seasons.
Seven Big Ten teams made the field of 64, including the Golden Gophers. Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin will join Minnesota in the NCAA Tournament. Five Big Ten teams also received top 16 seeds. Penn State (No. 3), Wisconsin (No. 10), Ohio State (No. 11) and Purdue (No. 14) joined Minnesota on that list.
Overall, Minnesota will be making its 12th NCAA Tournament appearance in school history, and its 10th under current head coach Mike Hebert. The Golden Gophers have advanced to the “Sweet Sixteen” in five of the last seven seasons, including back-to-back Final Fours in 2003 and 2004. Minnesota also made an appearance in the National Championship match in 2004.
Minnesota is 22-11 in 33 NCAA Tournament matches. The Golden Gophers are 12-4 the last four seasons in NCAA Tournament play.
All of Minnesota’s postseason matches can be heard on gophersports.com.
Minnesota Head Coach Mike Hebert:
"This team has had a very successful regular-seaosn campaign. They did a great job batting back from some of our early struggles, and have continued to get better throughout the season. I think we are playing well at the right time of year as we head into the NCAA Tournament and we are very excited to get the postseason underway."
(On traveling to Albany)
"Our team used hosting the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament as part of our motivation to succeed at a high level this season, so when we saw we would be in the road, it surprised us a little at first. However, I think once it registered we were just excited to start getting ready for the NCAA Tournament. You always want host the first and second rounds when you have the opportunity, but it is important for to focus our energy the competition we will be facing more then anything else."
Senior middle blocker Meredith Nelson
"I think as a senior it is dissapointing to know that we will not get the opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament in front of our great fans at the Sports Pavilion. However, that is the only thought I really have about where we play. I think the main part for us is to be focused in our preparation and be ready to play at a high level in the NCAA Tournament."
Senior libero Malama Peniata
"It reminds me a little bit of 2004 when we played in New Haven, Conn. We did a good job of focusing that year and putting forth our best effort in 2004, and that will be our main focus again this year. We wish we could play at the Sports Pavilion in front of all our great fans, but no matter where we play we are excited to prepare to play at a high level in the NCAA Tournament."