Gophers volleyball enters AVCA preseason poll ranked No. 7

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))

For the seventh straight year and eight time in 10 years under Hugh McCutcheon, the University of Minnesota volleyball team enters its season ranked in the top-10 in the country.

The Gophers entered the American Volleyball Coaches Association preseason poll on Monday ranked No. 7 in the country. They were also ranked No. 7 to start the 2021 spring season before finishing 16-3, 15-2 in the Big Ten and having their second end in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Minnesota is one of five Big Ten teams ranked in the top-25 to start the season, and their 2021 schedule features at least 10 ranked opponents. The Gophers also have five of their eight non-conference matches against ranked teams.

The Gophers will start the 2021 season against No. 10 player in Wisconsin on Aug. 27. Minnesota will welcome back fans to Maturi Pavilion on Sept. 1, hosting No. 1-ranked Texas. Four days later, they head to Gainesville to take on No. 4-ranked Florida.

Along with Minnesota, Wisconsin (2), Nebraska (5), Purdue (8), Ohio State (11), and Penn State (12) are all Big Ten teams in the rankings. That means at least 13 of their 27 matches are against teams ranked in the preseason poll.

The Gophers are led by four-time All-American and reigning Big Ten Player of the Year Stephanie Samedy. They return six players with starting experience, and 11 letter-winners.