The Gophers, ranked No. 4 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association preseason poll, begin the season Friday and Saturday with the Big Ten/ACC Challenge at Target Center. They hope to end it in the same place, when the NCAA Final Four is held at Target Center on Dec. 13-15.

Opening weekend: Friday vs. Florida State, 7 p.m.; Saturday vs. North Carolina, 7 p.m. (BTN). Wisconsin also is participating in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, playing North Carolina at 4:30 p.m. Friday and Florida State at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. General admission tickets ($35 for all games, $20 for a one-day pass) can be bought at or at the Target Center box office.

Other dates to remember: Aug. 31-Sept. 1, Gophers home opener at Maturi Pavilion (part of the Diet Coke Classic, with North Dakota State, Arkansas and Georgia Southern); Sept. 19, Big Ten opener against Penn State at Maturi Pavilion; Nov. 24, regular season ends at Rutgers; Nov. 25, NCAA tournament selection show; Nov. 29-Dec. 1, NCAA tournament begins.

Key returners: The Gophers return 12 letter winners and five starters, including three first-team All-Americas: senior setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson, junior outside hitter Alexis Hart and sophomore right-side hitter Stephanie Samedy. Sophomores Regan Pittman and Jasmyn Martin and redshirt junior Taylor Morgan also were major contributors last season.

Key newcomers: Freshman defensive specialist/libero CC McGraw, sophomore outside hitter Claire Sheehan (transfer from Iowa), freshman outside hitter Adanna Rollins.

TV schedule: Gophers games will be televised on the Big Ten Network on Aug. 25 (North Carolina, 7 p.m.), Sept. 19 (Penn State, 8 p.m.), Sept. 26 (Wisconsin, 8 p.m.), Oct. 26 (Michigan State, 5 p.m.) and Oct. 31 (Wisconsin, 8 p.m.)