Streaking Minnesota hoping to ride sucess to NCAA’s

With the regular season officially over and the NCAA tournament just around the corner, the Minnesota volleyball team is in a good spot. The Gophers (26-6 overall, 16-4 Big Ten) will ride an eight-game winning streak into the tournament after a successful road trip, beating Iowa in five sets Wednesday 25-15, 21-25, 26-24, 11-25, 15-13 and topping Michigan State in four Saturday, 25-18, 20-25, 25-13, 25-23. âÄúWe feel really good about where weâÄôre at going into the postseason,âÄù junior libero Christine Tan said . âÄúThese last few games weâÄôve learned how to win as a team, even if we arenâÄôt playing as well as we can or would like to play.âÄù Minnesota hasnâÄôt been at full strength since losing sophomore outside hitter Brook Dieter to an ankle sprain two weeks ago, but the Gophers have filled the void well, and sophomore defensive specialist Hailey Cowles has been one of the players who have been successful stepping into a new role. âÄúMy role is kind of just to be a low error player, and if they need me to put the ball down, I can do that too,âÄù Cowles said. âÄúWeâÄôre just trying to do what we can to make up for Brook being out.âÄù Cowles collected 18 kills and 19 digs against Iowa Wednesday night, leading the team. Freshman middle blocker Ariana Filho also played a role in MinnesotaâÄôs win over the Hawkeyes, as she started the match and contributed 14 kills with a .385 hit percentage. Freshman defensive specialist Ashley Suapaia saw extensive playing time as well, collecting 19 digs. âÄúAriana and Ashley played the whole match, and I think they both played really well,âÄù coach Mike Hebert said. âÄúThey both handled playing in a close match and I think they did a great job for us.âÄù The Gophers led Iowa (14-18, 6-14) 2-1 before getting blown out of the fourth game as Hebert said the Hawkeyes tried to exploit MinnesotaâÄôs weaker blockers. The Gophers trailed 11-7 in the fifth match, but finished on an 8-2 run to pull out their seventh straight win. âÄúI think they were out-working us at times,âÄù Tan said. âÄúBut I think we played aggressive enough at key moments in the match, and that has helped us to win close matches like that.âÄù Michigan State (15-16, 7-13) looked ready to hand the Gophers another long match early on Saturday, but after splitting the first two sets, Minnesota forced the Spartans to a negative hitting percentage in the third set, and cruised to a 25-13 win, setting the tone for the rest of the match. Senior outside hitter Kyla Roehrig led the Gophers with 12 kills and a .360 hitting percentage, while sophomore middle blocker Lauren Gibbemeyer added nine kills and six blocks. Tan added 14 digs to her stats for the week, after leading the Gophers with 20 against Iowa. Minnesota out-hit the Spartans .223-.095, finishing off the season. âÄúAs we finished the first half of the Big Ten season with an 8-2 record, I was hearing quite a few people saying they doubted we could go 8-2 in the second half,âÄù Hebert said. âÄúI thought it was an exceptional stand the team took after that three-match losing streak to achieve that goal of 8-2.âÄù