OPENING WEEKEND: Saturday, 4 p.m., BTN+; Sunday, 3 p.m., Fox 9+/BTN+. No spectators will be allowed at Maturi Pavilion.
WHERE THEY LEFT OFF: The Gophers last played on Dec. 19, 2019, losing to Stanford in the NCAA semifinals in Pittsburgh. They return four starters from a team that went 27-6 overall and tied for second place in the Big Ten with a 17-3 league record.
Key returnees include middle blocker Regan Pittman, a first-team All-America who was second in the Big Ten with 1.41 blocks per set; right-side hitter Stephanie Samedy, a second-team All-America and the Gophers' leading hitter with 353 kills; and libero CC McGraw, a first-team all-Big Ten selection whose 4.08 digs per set ranked third in the league.
THE SCHEDULE: Big Ten teams will play 22 matches this season, two more than usual, with no nonconference opponents. Each week includes two matches against the same opponent, usually on back-to-back days.
THE POSTSEASON: The NCAA tournament will have a 48-team bracket, 16 fewer than usual. The Final Four is April 22-24 in Omaha.