The Gophers volleyball team finishes its regular season with a huge match against No. 3 Wisconsin at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Sports Pavilion.
Minnesota (24-4, 16-3) is No. 2 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association’s latest rankings and coming off a 3-2 win over No. 1 Nebraska on Wednesday night.
With a win over the Badgers (25-3, 17-2) — and a loss by the Cornhuskers to Michigan the same night — the Gophers would tie for the Big Ten title with Wisconsin and Nebraska.
The match is on BTN at 7:30 p.m.
Minnesota is 12-0 at home this season and defeated the then-No. 1 Badgers 3-0 on Oct. 12 in Madison. The Gophers hit .323 in that match, Wisconsin only .050. Minnesota outblocked the Badgers 14-3.
“We already had a nice win over Wisconsin,” Gophers coach Hugh McCutcheon said, “and they are playing better.”
Sarah Wilhite leads the Gophers with 428 kills — 4.12 kills per set — followed by Alexis Hart with 303 and Hannah Tapp with 285.
Wisconsin is coming off a 3-1 home win over Iowa on Wednesday. Sophomore Tionna Williams had 14 kills and hit .737 with no errors in 19 attempts and also had seven blocks. Molly Haggerty and Haleigh Nelson had 13 and 12 kills, respectively.
The Badgers are on a 10-match winning streak and are 11-1 since losing to the Gophers; the loss was to the Cornhuskers in Lincoln.
Minnesota will honor its six seniors — the largest senior class since 2004 — after the match. The six: starters Hannah and Paige Tapp and Wilhite and three reserves, Katie Schau and transfers Margaret Eggert and Erica Handley.
“It is a great class,” McCutcheon said. “They have been part of the building of the foundation of this program. I guess it’s the rebuilding of the foundation. It’s not like they were in trouble before we got here, but there certainly have been some changes and [the seniors] led the way. They had to do the hard yards to get this thing to where it is today. Hopefully, they feel very proud of that and knowing how much work had to go into becoming the team they are.”
The NCAA volleyball tournament selection show will be at 8 p.m. Sunday on ESPNU.
U women host BSU
The No. 2 Gophers women’s hockey team will host Bemidji State in 2 p.m. games Saturday and Sunday at Ridder Arena.
The teams split a series in Bemidji on Oct. 7-8. Minnesota rallied to win the first game 3-1 but lost the second game 2-0, which included an empty-net goal. Brittni Mowat made 31 saves for the shutout.
Gophers linemates Kelly Pannek (five goals, 20 assists) and Sarah Potomak (11, 14) are tied for the NCAA lead in points with 25. Dani Cameranesi (14, 10) is one point back and leads the nation in goals.
Junior goalie Sidney Peters of the Gophers (11-1-2, 9-1-2-2 WCHA) has a 1.25 goals-against average — fourth in the nation.