MINNEAPOLIS — The No. 6 Minnesota Golden Gophers (4-2, 0-0 Big Ten) will close out the non-conference slate by taking on No. 22 Pepperdine (7-2, 0-0 WCC) and RV Washington State (7-1, 0-0 Pac-12) in the Diet Coke Classic. Last year, the Gophers swept St. Thomas and Iowa State to go undefeated in the event.
PEPPERDINE BROADCAST MATCH INFORMATION
No. 6 Minnesota vs. No. 22 Pepperdine | 7 pm CT | B1G+
Thursday, Sept. 15
WASHINGTON STATE MATCH INFORMATION
No. 6 Minnesota vs. (RV) Washington State | 7:30 p.m. CT | B1G+
Saturday, Sept. 17
NUMBERS TO KNOW:
259 — Minnesota head coach Hugh McCutcheon holds a 259-67 (.800) collegiate coaching record and has led Minnesota to two Big Ten Championships, three Final Fours, nine trips to the Sweet 16 and five to the Elite Eight. He joins Mike Hebert (1996-2011; 381-136 (.737)) and Stephanie Schleuder (1982-1994; 263-173 (.603)) as the third coach in Minnesota history to win 250 matches. Hebert also led the ‘U’ to three Final Fours.
26 — The 2021 season marked the 26th year the Golden Gophers advanced to the NCAA tournament. Minnesota has also advanced to the tournament in seven-straight seasons and nine of 10 seasons under head coach Hugh McCutcheon.
19 — Of Minnesota’s 31 scheduled games are against 2021 NCAA Tournament teams. 12 of those matches are against teams that advanced to the Sweet 16 or further.
16 — 16 of the Gophers’ 31 games are versus teams that finished in the AVCA Top-25. Seven of those matches are against teams that finished in the top-10.
7 — Of Minnesota’s eight non-conference matches are against teams that made the 2021 NCAA Tournament. TCU is the only team that failed to qualify.
6 — Of the eight team’s Minnesota will have played in non-conference play will be ranked at the time of their matchup.
5 — Fifth-year senior libero CC McGraw ranks No. 5 all-time at Minnesota with 1,619 career digs. She’s just 381 away from becoming the second Gopher and 10th Big Ten player all-time to reach that mark.
4 — Transfers were added to the mix in 2022. Arica Davis (MB, Ohio State), Elise McGhie (S, Kansas), Miranda Wucherer (S/RS, N. Kentucky) and Naya Gros (MB, Michigan State) are the additions.
3 — Gophers earned All-Big Ten honors last season. Five-time First Team All-Big Ten honoree Stephanie Samedy departs, but CC McGraw (first team) and Jenna Wenaas (second team) return.
2 — Conference opponents Minnesota plays twice: Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin.
1 — Conference opponents Minnesota plays once: Indiana, Maryland, Nebraska Northwestern, Penn State, Rutgers.
LAST TIME OUT
• The Gophers took down No. 18 Oregon on Friday night at the Pav to open the Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge. Taylor Landfair had a career-high 28 kills with nine digs while Mel Shaffmaster had 51 assists with 21 digs (tied career-high) in the four set win.
• Minnesota stumbled on Saturday night against No. 11 Stanford, falling in four sets. Landfair led the Gophers, who hit a season low .107 on the night, with 15 kills.
• Pepperdine is led by alum Scott Wong, who was named the Waves’ head coach in December of 2014. He enters his eighth season at the helm of the Waves’ program in 2022.
• Last season in 2021, Wong led Pepperdine to the team’s third NCAA Tournament appearance in four years after compiling a 22-6 overall record with a 14-4 WCC output and 2nd place in the league.
• The Waves were highlighted on the All-WCC Preseason Team by three players – Rachel Ahrens, Meg Brown and Isabel Zelaya. They had all garnered postseason accolades after the 2021 campaign, with Ahrens earning AVCA All-American honorable mention status.
SCOUTING WASHINGTON STATE
• WSU is led by 12th-year head coach Jen Greeny, who has garnered two Pac-12 Coach of the Year awards from the sidelines while leading the Cougars to an unprecedented six-consecutive (and counting) NCAA postseason appearances.
• The Cougars finished 2021 at No. 23 in the nation after a postseason run to the NCAA tournament second round and a 20-12 overall record
• Seniors Magda Jehlarova and Pia Timmer were each named to the Pac-12 Preseason All-Conference team. Jehlarova is a two-time AVCA All-American while Timmer earned AVCA honors last year after leading the team with 3.79 kills per set.
HISTORY VS. PEPPERDINE AND WASHINGTON STATE
• The Gophers are 3-0 all-time vs. Pepperdine and have never played Washington State. Minnesota last played Pepperdine in 2003, a five-set victory in Long Beach, Calif.
• The first meeting against Pepperdine came in 1980, another five set win at a tournament in San Diego. They also played in 2002 at the Pav in the State Farm Volleyball Classic, when the ‘U’ won in straight sets.
GOPHERS IN THE DIET COKE CLASSIC
• Under Hugh McCutcheon, Minnesota is 22-0 in the Diet Coke Classic. They’re 57-7 all-time.
Gopher senior CC McGraw of Prior Lake spoke with MNN sports director Mike Grimm about the season:
(info and photos courtesy of Gopher Sports)