Gophers hit the road

Minnesota volleyball heads east to play at Purdue and Indiana.

Aleutian Calabay

Winning at home in the Big Ten is one thing, but being able to win on the road is something else. The No. 8 University of Minnesota (11-3, 2-0 Big Ten) volleyball team will face their first road challenges of the season this weekend. First they head to West Lafayette to take on Purdue (9-4, 1-1 Big Ten) on Friday at 6 p.m. The Gophers then move on to Indiana to play the Hoosiers (12-4, 1-1) on Sunday at noon. Minnesota is coming off a solid performance last weekend in which they beat both Wisconsin and Iowa in straight sets at home to open the Big Ten season. The Gophers are led on the court by the junior combo of Lauren Gibbemeyer and Brook Dieter . Gibbemeyer currently leads the Big Ten with 1.52 blocks per game and is third in the conference with a 0.446 hitting percentage. Dieter is fourth in the Big Ten, averaging 3.83 kills per game. The Gophers, despite being ranked No. 8 and currently third in the Big Ten behind Penn State and Michigan , know not to take any conference opponent lightly, especially knowing they have to face them on their home court. âÄúI think both of them [Purdue and Indiana] will be tough opponents,âÄù Gophers head coach Mike Hebert said. âÄúFrom watching them on video, they both seem to be in sync and holding their own offensively and defensively. Sometimes you play opponents that are good in one area, but Purdue and Indiana are solid in all areas of the game.âÄù The Boilermakers started the year ranked No. 19 nationally but started the season with a couple of tough five-set losses to Dayton and Baylor, which dropped them out of the rankings. However, Purdue seems to be a team on the rise, winning its last three non-conference games . Purdue continued its upswing into Big Ten play by beating then-No. 16 Michigan State in four sets at home last Friday. The BoilermakersâÄô four-match winning streak was broken last Sunday when they fell to then- No. 8 Michigan in a five-set battle. Minnesota leads the all-time series against Purdue 39-28. The Gophers have won seven in a row and 18 of 20 against the Boilermakers, but Purdue has played spoiler a couple of times in recent years, beating No. 18 Minnesota in 2003 and No. 9 Minnesota in 2005. Indiana is another team looking to prove they can compete with anyone in the Big Ten. The Hoosiers entered conference play with a modest 11-3 record but were immediately dropped by Michigan in three sets last Friday at home. However, Indiana followed the loss with a four-set win over Michigan State at home last Saturday, sending the message that they will not be a Big Ten pushover. The Gophers lead the all-time series against Indiana 42-14. The Hoosiers ended MinnesotaâÄôs 11-match series winning streak in their last meeting on Nov. 1, 2008, winning in five sets in Bloomington. MinnesotaâÄôs No. 8 ranking is the highest the Gophers have been since Sept. 15, 2008, when they were also ranked eighth. Being viewed so high in the national spotlight can add pressure to win, especially against lower or unranked opponents, but the Gophers insist itâÄôs hardly on their mind. âÄúThe pressure comes from outside sources, but on the team, none of us think about our ranking,âÄù sophomore Ariana Filho said. âÄúWe know it doesnâÄôt determine how well weâÄôre going to play. ItâÄôs not something that we think about daily.âÄù