This last week, the Gophers changed things up. Instead of winning in straight sets, as had been their habbit as of ate, both games last week went the distance requiring a fifth set.
Minnesota is now 1-1 in the Big Ten and 9-3 overall.
Game #1 - #21 Minnesota @ #12 Ohio State - Wednesday, 09/23/2015 - Gophers WIN 3-2
This was a great game. If you want to learn more, read my in depth recap here. If you don't want to take my word, read the Gophersports.com recap by clicking the link in the tweet below.
Game #2 - #21 Minnesota @ #1 Penn State - Saturday, 09/26/2015 - Gophers Fall 2-3
This was a game that wasn't supposed to be close; Minnesota took Ohio State the distance and won but surely Penn State would end the game in short order, like they had done earlier in the week when they defeated the #16 Wisconsin Badgers in straight sets. Nope; it looked like it at first but the Gophers had too much fight in them. Penn State won the first two sets 22-25 and 16-25 but during the break the Gophers decided to #DigDeep. Minnesota would win the next two sets 25-19 & 25-20. The deciding fifth set went back and forth between the two teams with Penn State eking out a 12-15 win. This is what you call a "good loss" and I think the Gophers may have proven to themselves that they can play with anyone.
For her efforts last week, junior middle blocker Paige Tapp was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week.
I called the Penn State loss a "good loss" and others must have agreed because between that game and the upset of Ohio State, the Gophers have improved in the rankings, moving from #21 to #16 in the nation!
So at 1-1 in the Big Ten, the Gophers are technically 8th in the Big Ten; however, they are one of only two teams to move up in the Coaches Poll rankings and are now the 4th highest ranked Big Ten team. Currently 8 Big Ten teams are ranked in the top 25 with another two teams receiving votes.
Minnesota will start their home slate of Big Ten teams with two games this week, Northwestern and #7 Illinois.
Game #1 - #16 Minnesota vs. Northwestern - Wednesday, 09/30/2015 at 7:00 pm - BTN Plus
A bit of a breather but only a bit. Northwestern is 2-0 in the conference and 10-3 overall. They won their first two Big Ten games in straight sets, but they were against Big Ten cellar dwellers Rutgers and Maryland. Still, Northwestern shouldn't be over looked. Minnesota played Northwestern twice last year (2014), loosing 3-0 at Evanston and winning 3-1 at the Sports Pavilion. Read the Gophersports.com preview of the game here. After facing Minnesota, Northwestern will travel to #19 Wisconsin.
Game #2 - #16 Minnesota vs. #7 Illinois - Saturday, 10/03/2015 at 7:00 pm - BTN Plus
In the first 4 games of the Big Ten season, Minnesota will have faced 3 of the 6 teams ranked above them at the start of Big Ten play. Illinois was the other Big Ten team to move up the rankings this week, moving up two spots to #7. Illinois is 2-0 in the Big Ten and 11-2 overall. Like Northwestern, the Illini defeated Maryland and Rutgers in straight sets to open up the Big Ten season. The Gophers may have caught a break in that Illinois must first travel to #19 Wisconsin on Wednesday who will be hungry; the Badgers are looking for their first Big Ten win a they lost 3-0 to Penn State and 3-2 Ohio State last week. Minnesota only play the Illini once last year, a 3-0 defeat in Champaign.
Go Gophers! Ski-U-Mah! #DigDeep and #PackThePav!