There is no room for error in the Big Ten volleyball season, which makes the Gophers matchup with Purdue at Maturi Pavilion on Sunday all the more intriguing.
The No. 8 Gophers (17-6, 12-3 conference) are riding a six-game win streak, fresh off a sweep of Iowa on Thursday. Four of those wins have come against ranked opponents and they will try to do it again against the No. 9 Boilermakers.
Much like Minnesota, Purdue (19-5, 11-4) is peaking at the right time. The Boilermakers have won five straight, including two wins over conference-leading Wisconsin in the past two weeks. Purdue topped the No. 4 Badgers again on Friday night in Madison, Wis., in four sets.
"Some more good Big Ten volleyball," Gophers coach Hugh McCutcheon said. "Purdue can play."
From facing Wisconsin on the road on Friday to coming to the Maturi Pavilion on Sunday to play the Gophers, it's just another weekend for Purdue in this rugged conference.
But Sunday will foster some additional familiarity. Minnesota and Purdue played back-to-back matches nine months ago in West Lafayette, Ind., during the augmented 2020-2021 season, with the Gophers rallying back to win both matches in five sets, after trailing 2-1.
Senior middle blocker Katie Myers, who leads Minnesota with 98 blocks this season, said those recent contests only add expectations for Sunday.
"They return a lot, we return a lot," she said. "I think some of the girls on our team have a lot of experience in the Big Ten — even our younger girls got to experience it last year. I think that will help this matchup. ... Not only on our side, but on Purdue's side, as well."
The conference leaders are jostling for position at the top of the standings with two weeks remaining in the regular season — Wisconsin, Nebraska and Minnesota enter Sunday tied atop the Big Ten with Purdue a game back — and McCutcheon said there is a feeling that the Gophers are rounding into form.
"In our league it's dangerous to get ahead of yourself," he said. "You can only take it one at a time. But I do think that we're building into something pretty good and our consistency and our level of execution has been solid.
"At least it feels like we're headed in the right direction. But right now we're done with Iowa and onto Purdue. There's not much more than that, really."