Volleyball Ranked No. 1 in USA Today/CSTV Poll

The Minnesota volleyball team moved up four spots to claim its first ever No. 1 ranking in school history in the USA Today/CSTV Top-25 poll tabulated by the AVCA, which was released on Monday. Minnesota received 1,559 votes and 31 first-place votes to claim the top ranking in the nation.

"We are excited as a program to be ranked No. 1 in the nation," said Minnesota head coach Mike Hebert. "However, we know that how our team plays on the court is more important than the polls or any other external expectations. Our players and staff will continue to focus on that and enjoy whatever positive results come out of our on-court performance. I do think what happened this week is exciting for the sport of women's volleyball. To have the top four teams lose in the same weekend speaks volumes about how competitive things will be and have already been this season nationally in the sport."

Minnesota's No. 1 ranking ends a 22-week reign by USC as the No. 1 team in the nation. The Golden Gophers are the first team other then Women on Troy to be ranked No. 1 since Stanford was on Nov. 11, 2002. Since 2001, only six teams have held the No. 1 spot. Along with Minnesota, those teams include USC, Stanford, Nebraska, Long Beach State and Hawaii.

This past week the Golden Gophers defeated No. 4 Florida and No. 15 Kansas State, along with Northern Iowa, to win the Diet Coke Classic. Minnesota is 3-1 against ranked teams this year with its only loss coming to then No. 1 USC in five games at Fort Collins, Colo. in the NACWAA Classic on Aug. 28.

Minnesota moved up after the top four teams all suffered losses last week. Last week's No. 1 USC lost to Illinois, No. 2 Nebraska lost to Florida A&M, No. 3 UCLA lost to Hawaii and Minnesota defeated then No. 4 Florida.

The No. 1 ranking is the first for a Big Ten team since Penn State was ranked No. 1 in the final 1999 poll after winning the national title. Minnesota's previous highest ranking was No. 4 after last year's Final Four. Since last year's final poll, Minnesota was ranked No. 5 in the first two polls this year, before making the jump to No. 1.

This week's poll also features three Big Ten teams in the top 10 with Penn State at No. 5 and Illinois at No. 9. Ohio State is No. 25, while Michigan State, Michigan, Purdue and Wisconsin are all receiving votes.

The Golden Gophers have won six straight matches heading into the week after claiming the Wyoming Tournament (Sept. 3-4) and the Diet Coke Classic (Sept. 10-11).

Minnesota will travel to the North Carolina Tournament this week. In that tournament, the Golden Gophers will start off against Rice on Friday, Sept. 17 at 3:30 p.m. (CT). Minnesota will then play No. 20 Loyola Marymount on Saturday, Sept. 18 at 9 a.m. (CT) and host North Carolina at 6:30 p.m. (CT).

The Golden Gophers will be at home next on Monday, Sept. 20 when they face Cincinnati at 7 p.m. in the Sports Pavilion. Minnesota will open the Big Ten season on Friday, Sept. 24 against Michigan State at 7 p.m.

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