Gophers sweep Omaha tourney

Sophomore outside hitter Brook Dieter sends a ball back during a match last season. Dieter took home tournament MVP honors, due mostly to her 14 kills and .428 hitting percentage.

Matt Mead

Sophomore outside hitter Brook Dieter sends a ball back during a match last season. Dieter took home tournament MVP honors, due mostly to her 14 kills and .428 hitting percentage.

Minnesota volleyball coach Mike Hebert said he wanted to see his team play at least one game before he made any comments about the outlook of the season. But following three consecutive wins at CreightonâÄôs invitational Friday and Saturday, Hebert was ready to comment. He simply said, âÄúWeâÄôre going to be good.âÄù The Gophers looked good in all three matches, completing a sweep of Creighton on Friday by scores of 25-14, 25-20, 25-16, winning in four against Texas A&M 25-18, 25-13, 23-25, 25-22, and sweeping No. 21 LSU 25-11, 25-21, 25-22. âÄúWeâÄôre feeling really good about this weekend,âÄù junior libero Christine Tan said. âÄúWeâÄôve met all the goals we set and we improved on areas we struggled last year. It was a good start.âÄù Minnesota took full advantage of a newly balanced offense from the start, as four players collected seven kills or more in the 3-0 sweep of Creighton. Sophomore outside hitter and tournament MVP Brook Dieter led the way with 14 kills and a .428 hitting percentage, and the Gophers played just as tough defensively, holding the Blue Jays to a team hitting percentage of .150. âÄúItâÄôs great because now we have three players in the front row that can pound the ball,âÄù Dieter said. âÄúNow teams canâÄôt just camp out on one of us, and that really helps our offense.âÄù Tan led the way defensively, collecting 13 of a match-high 18 digs in the first set alone. Tan said the teamâÄôs blocking scheme led to the high number of digs, as the Gophers funneled the balls to their libero. MinnesotaâÄôs numbers looked even better in its match against Texas A&M as senior outside hitter Kyla Roehrig and sophomore middle blocker Lauren Gibbemeyer dismantled the AggiesâÄô defense with 19 and 16 kills, respectively. The Gophers hit .343 as a team and Tan once again led the way defensively, collecting a career-high 32 digs as Minnesota cruised to a 3-1 win. âÄúWe had dramatic improvement in our ability to cut down on unforced errors, and that has improved our hitting efficiency,âÄù Hebert said. âÄúWeâÄôre hitting a little over .300 as a team, whereas last year we were hitting around .200. WeâÄôre showing dramatic improvement over last year.âÄù No. 21 LSU was expected to give the Gophers their biggest challenge, but Minnesota handled its final game of the weekend well, once again putting on a show defensively to hold the Tigers to a .089 hitting percentage. Sophomore defensive specialist Hailey Cowles and Dieter each had 10 digs, and Dieter added 12 kills for the offense, allowing the Gophers to set the tone early, winning the first set 25-11. Junior outside hitter Pamela Luiz, a transfer from Frank Phillips College in Texas, added eight kills as Minnesota topped LSU in all facets of the game to pick up the three-game sweep and a sweep of the tournament as well. Luiz had either seven or eight kills in each game, and hit .313 from the right side during the tournament, drawing praise from Hebert. âÄúLuiz is exactly what the doctor ordered,âÄù he said. âÄúSheâÄôs a very mature player who gets along with everyone and provides some veteran court responses. SheâÄôs giving us a lot of stuff on a lot of different levels.âÄù