The University of Minnesota volleyball program enters the 2021 season as the seventh-ranked team in the nation, as announced today by the American Volleyball Coaches Association.
It marks the fifth-consecutive season and 107th time in program history in which the Gophers have garnered a top-10 national ranking in the AVCA preseason poll.
In all, six Big Ten teams are ranked in the top-25 with Minnesota facing the other five in the 2021 spring season: No. 13 Purdue (Feb. 5-6), No. 9 Penn State (Feb. 13-14), No. 5 Nebraska (Feb. 19, Feb. 21), No. 24 Michigan (Feb. 26-27) and No. 1 Wisconsin (March 17, March 21).
Last year, Minnesota advanced to the Final Four, finishing the year with a 27-6 overall record and a 17-3 mark in conference play. The Golden Gophers return four starters from the 2019 Final Four team: redshirt senior middle blocker Regan Pittman, senior opposite hitter Stephanie Samedy, junior libero CC McGraw and junior outsider hitter Adanna Rollins. The Gophers also welcome five newcomers to the 2021 roster, including three freshmen and two transfers.
The University of Minnesota volleyball program will play a 22-match regular season schedule this spring announced tonight by the Big Ten Conference. Times and broadcast information will be announced at a later date. All home matches will be played at Maturi Pavilion.
Minnesota will play the same opponent twice each week. Every Big Ten institution has five two-game home series, five two-game road series and one split week with a geographically relevant opponent. Split week opponents were determined by mileage. No team has more than one instance of consecutive two-game series at home or away. None of these occurrences take place in the first or last two weeks.
Minnesota opens the season home against Michigan State, Jan. 23 and plays the Spartans again the next day on Jan. 24. After road series at Maryland and Purdue, Jan. 29-30 and Feb. 5-6, Minnesota returns home Feb. 13-14 when it hosts Penn State. The Gophers then go back on the road to face Nebraska, Feb. 19 and Feb. 21. Minnesota hosts Michigan, Feb. 26-27, before traveling to Ohio State on March 5-6.
Minnesota then has the next three of four matches at home. The Gophers host Illinois on March 12-13 before playing a home-and-home against Wisconsin. The Gophers and Badgers compete in Madison, Wis., March 17 and in Minneapolis March 21. Minnesota travels to Northwestern on March 26-27 before closing out the regular season, April 2-3 against Iowa at home.
The Gophers are coming off a Final Four run in 2019 and finished the year with a 27-6 overall record and a 17-3 mark in conference play. The Gophers, who had their fall 2020 season canceled due to COVID-19, have not played a match since Dec. 19, 2019. Should the Gophers play on Jan. 23, it would be the team’s first action in 401 days.
Gopher junior CC McGraw of Prior Lake spoke with MNN sports director Mike Grimm about the upcoming season:
(info and photo courtesy of Gopher Sports)