Volleyball team hopes trip south will continue streak against Northern Iowa

Minnesota has won three matches in a row against the Panthers.

Minnesota’s volleyball team will play Northern Iowa tonight at 7 in Rochester, Minn., at the University Center.

The Gophers are coming off a tournament victory this past weekend in Manhattan, Kan., with a 3-0 run at the Kansas State Invitational. Minnesota’s Kansas wins came against Houston, Florida State and No. 24 Kansas State.

The Gophers have won their last three meetings against Northern Iowa. They beat the Panthers in last year’s Diet Coke Classic and took two meetings in 2003, a second round NCAA Tournament win and an upset of the then-sixth-ranked Panthers in Rochester.

This will be Minnesota’s first match in Rochester since that 2003 meeting with Northern Iowa. Northern Iowa is 6-3 for the season.

Volleyball rankings

In the CSTV volleyball poll released Monday, Minnesota retained its No. 5 ranking.

Three other Big Ten schools are ranked in the top 25, with Penn State at No. 4, Wisconsin at 13 and Ohio State at 14. The Gophers begin conference play on Sept. 23 at Wisconsin.

Athletes honored

Minnesota’s women’s basketball senior forward Shannon Bolden was named the Patty Berg Legacy Scholar-Athlete Award winner, and football center Greg Eslinger was named the Henry Williams Legacy Scholar-Athlete Award winner Monday.

The awards go to athletes on full or partial scholarships and typically are given to seniors.

Bolden is a three-year starter at small forward and has participated in the NCAA tournament each of her three years at the school. Eslinger has started every game in his Minnesota career and was named to numerous preseason All-American teams this year.

Whalen to the finals

Former Minnesota women’s basketball star Lindsay Whalen’s WNBA Connecticut Suns advanced to the WNBA Finals with a 2-0 series sweep of the Indiana Fever in the Eastern Conference finals. The best-of-five series begins Wednesday in Connecticut and pits the Suns against the Sacramento Monarchs.

Whalen, a second-year guard, was a three-time All-American at Minnesota and led the Gophers to the 2004 Women’s Final Four.

She is the Suns’ second-leading scorer in the playoffs at 16.5 points per game and leads the team with 3.5 assists per game in the playoffs.