If Sonja Posthuma were on the NCAA committee that offered tournament bids, the Gophers women’s volleyball team could realistically lose its final four matches and still earn an invitation.
“Everybody talks about how we are a young team, but we were ranked for nine weeks,” the outside hitter said. “It’s not just because of nothing. We deserve a bid.”
In reality, however, whether the Gophers (16-11 overall, 6-10 in the Big Ten) are invited is decided by people outside of the program. Iowa coach Rita Crockett offered her opinion.
“Minnesota, they are a great team, but they are an up-and-down team,” Crockett said. “You have to look at the records.”
At best, the Gophers will finish with a .500 record in conference. However, this so-so finish could keep Minnesota afloat as a top six team in the Big Ten.
Last year six teams (Penn State, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Minnesota) represented the Big Ten in postseason play. This was only the second time in the history of the conference that six teams found their names in the brackets.
But with an expanded field of 64 teams this year, six teams from one conference might become a norm. The Gophers, after 3-0 road losses to Ohio State and No. 2 Penn State this past weekend, find themselves tied for fifth place in league standings with the Buckeyes, a place that Gophers coach Mike Hebert believes hides his team’s talent level.
“The strength of the conference masks our abilities,” Hebert said.
13th Lucky for Hawkeyes
In its bid for a tournament invite, Minnesota is learning about dependency upon other conference teams. A once winless Iowa team rescued the Gophers this weekend.
On Friday, Hawkeyes first-year coach Crockett celebrated the end of a 24-match Big Ten losing streak that dates back to last season. Iowa defeated Indiana (7-9, 14-11) 3-0 at Carver Hawkeye Arena.
“It should be that we should win some games,” Crockett said. “It should be normal to win.”
The Hawkeyes, who still rest at the bottom of conference standings two matches behind Michigan, actually own a winning streak at this point. On Saturday, Iowa rolled on with a sweep over Northwestern (5-11, 15-13).
Despite the new fad, Crockett said the pileup of defeats cannot be forgotten.
“We still have to remember the games we lost, why we lost them and figure out how to win them next time,” Crockett said.
Iowa’s change of direction is a plus for Minnesota. With Iowa’s defeat over Indiana, the Gophers find themselves one match behind the Hoosiers. Minnesota plays Indiana on Friday.
No Backing for the Pack
In European countries, soccer is the sport to support. So when Posthuma crossed the ocean, a transition was made.
“I wasn’t a football fan when I came here,” Posthuma said. “Now I can sit in front of the TV for three hours.”
The Sneek, Netherlands, native doesn’t have “a heart for one team.” But still Posthuma picked the Central Division-leading Vikings to beat the second-place Packers when the two teams meet at the Metrodome on Sunday.