The Gophers volleyball team, which tied for second in the Big Ten Conference a year ago, was picked to finish fifth this season in a preseason coaches' poll.

The No. 1 pick, of course, was Penn State. The Nittany Lions have won four NCAA titles in a row and eight Big Ten titles consecutively.

Behind PSU in the poll were Illinois and conference newcomer Nebraska, picked to tie for second. Purdue was tabbed for fourth. Next was the Gophers picked for fifth and Michigan State selected for sixth.

Two Gophers were named to the preseason all-conference teams, middle blocker Tori Dixon and outside hitter Ashley Wittman. Both made the all-freshman team last season.

Somehow left off the 17-member preseason team was senior libero Jessica Granquist, the Defensive Player of the Year in 2010. Only one players who was strictly a defensive specialist made the team.

The Gophers' annual media day will be Thursday. And then at 6 p.m. Friday, Volleyball School for the public will be offered at the Sports Pavilion.

The team will scrimmage as part of the two-hour event. And interim head coach Laura Bush and her staff will explain a few things about strategy in Division I volleyball. Last year the same event was called Volleyball 101.

Earlier this week, the American Volleyball Coaches Association rated the Gophers No. 12 in its preseason national ratings. Minnesota finished 26-9 and ranked No. 10 last year. The Gophers lost in an NCAA regional to eventual national runner-up California.