Gophers volleyball earns No. 8 overall seed for NCAA Tournament, home regional

Melanie Schaffmaster was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week after the Gophers swept Michigan State in a pair of 3-0 wins to open the 2021 season. ((credit: University of Minnesota Athletics))

The University of Minnesota volleyball team is the No. 8 overall seed and the No. 2 seed in the Texas Regional for the NCAA Tournament.

The Gophers learned their seeding Sunday night, after finishing off the regular season with wins at No. 8-ranked Ohio State, and No. 5-ranked Nebraska. Minnesota will host a four-team pod with Southeast Louisana, Florida State and Northern Iowa Friday and Saturday in Maturi Pavilion.

The Seminoles and Panthers will meet in the early match on Friday. The Gophers will face SE Louisiana at about 7 p.m. The winners meet Saturday night for a trip to the NCAA Sweet 16. If the Gophers advance out of the weekend, they’ll head to Texas, the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament, Dec. 8-10.

The Gophers earned their 27th trip to the NCAA Tournament. They’re making their eighth straight trip under Hugh McCutcheon, and it’s their 10th appearance in the last 11 seasons. It’s also the eighth straight year Minnesota will have a top-16 seed.

McCutcheon announced on Oct. 16 that he’s stepping away from the program after this season, his 11th with Minnesota. The Gophers are 11-2 since. In January, McCutcheon is stepping into a newly-created role as assistant athletic director and sport development coach.

Minnesota is one of six Big Ten teams in the NCAA Tournament, and they’re nothing short of battle-tested. The Gophers played 17 regular season matches against tournament teams, including the entire non-conference schedule. They played 14 tournament teams in total.

The Gophers enter the NCAA Tournament 20-8 overall, 15-5 in Big Ten play and on a three-match win streak.