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The fourth-seeded Minnesota volleyball team will head to Long Beach, Calif. for the 2004 National Semifinals this week. The Golden Gophers will take on No. 8 USC (23-5) on Thursday, Dec. 16 at 9:30 p.m. (CT) in the second match of the Final Four. It will be a rematch of last year's National Semifinals, and of this year's NACWAA Classic Championship. No. 7 Washington and No. 11 Stanford will play in the first match at 7:30 p.m. (CT). Minnesota's match against USC will be shown on a tape-delayed basis on ESPN 2 on Dec. 17 at 2 p.m. The Golden Gophers were the only regional No. 1 seed to survive NCAA Regional play, as they defeated Ohio State in five games to advance to the National Semifinals. USC is coming of a five-game victory over the tournament's top-seed Nebraska on Dec. 11. With that victory, USC has now won 16 straight NCAA Tournament matches. Minnesota's only matchup against the Final Four field came against USC on Aug. 28. The Women of Troy are the only team to have played all three teams in the field. USC split with Stanford and Washington, and defeated Minnesota in five games on Aug. 28.
Minnesota will see a familiar group of teams in this year's National Semifinals. The Golden Gophers will have a rematch against No. 8 USC in the Final Four on Dec. 16. Minnesota lost to Women of Troy in three games in the Final Four last year. The Golden Gophers also lost a five-game match to USC in this year's NACWAA Classic championship on Aug. 28. Minnesota met Washington in last year's NCAA Regional Finals. The Golden Gophers won a hard-fought five-game match over the Huskies to advance to their first Final Four in school history. Minnesota played Stanford in the 2002 NACWAA Classic championship at Minneapolis. The Cardinal won that match in four games. The Golden Gophers ended up in Stanford for the regionals later that year. The Cardinal advanced to Final Four, while Minnesota lost to Arizona in the NCAA Regional Semifinals. The Golden Gophers were in the same regional with Stanford in Long Beach last year. However, this time Stanford was upended by Washington in the regional semifinals as Minnesota advanced to the Final Four. Coincidentally, Washington, Stanford and Minnesota were all in the regional in Long Beach a little over a year ago.
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