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Gophers volleyball hopes for a 8-0 start in Big Ten



The Volleyball Team of Gophers ends a home game with four games, the longest game of the Big Ten season, this weekend against Iowa and the fifth Nebraska in the Maturi Pavilion. As they approach the middle of the 20-match conference schedule, the Gophers are in first place with an 8-0 record and are the only undefeated team in the Big Ten.

This weekend: 19.00. Friday against Iowa, 19.00 clock Saturday against Nebraska. Friday's game will be broadcast live on BTN Plus. The match on Saturday will be broadcast live on BTN. The Game Day Live page on gophersports.com features live stats and game-by-game.

On Role: The last weekend of No.7 Illinois and Northwestern drew the Gophers to 8-0 in the conference game, the best Big Ten start in program history. The Gophers had twice started league season 7-0, 1

989 and 1999. The series includes victories over four opponents at the time in the nation's top 7, and the Gophers have lost just one set in the Big Ten game against Nebraska in a 3-1 win at Lincoln on 6 October.

By Numbers: The Gophers are third in the nation in kills per set (15.12) and beat percentage (.303), and they are sixth in assists per set (13.65). Setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson, who has surpassed 5,000 career assists in the win over Northwestern, is 12th in assists per set (11:44).

About Iowa: The Hawkeyes (12-7, 4-4 Big Ten) are unrated but received votes in this week's AVCA poll. Setter Brie Orr of Eagan is eighth in the Big Ten with 10.08 assists per set, and outright Taylor Louis averaged 4.01 kills per set, fifth in the conference. The Gophers are 76-11 against Iowa since the start of the series in 1975.

About Nebraska: When the Gophers won in Lincoln two weeks ago, it was their eighth victory in a rivalry that spanned 42 games. The Huskers (15-2, 6-2), who play Wisconsin No.9 on Friday, have lost two of their last three games, 3-1 against the Gophers and 3-2 against Penn State. They are one of the league's best defensive teams and are in the Big Ten and Ninth of the nation in blocks per set (2.86) and in the opponent's hit (0.127) at the top.

The Secret of the Series: When asked how the Gophers remained unbeaten in a brutally tough conference, coach Hugh McCutcheon referred to their ability to play at a consistently high level from week to week. "Consistency, that's the critical element," he said. "I think the team played good volleyball, but we are currently playing in the best league in the country and we need to be able to maintain and even try to put the foundation we've put in place."

RACHEL BLOUNT

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