Gophers split weekend matches

Minnesota beat Notre Dame and lost to Louisville in its opening weekend.

Gohpers outside hitter Sarah Wilhite hits the ball past Louisville on Saturday night at the Sports Pavilion.

Zach Bielinski

Gohpers outside hitter Sarah Wilhite hits the ball past Louisville on Saturday night at the Sports Pavilion.

Rachel Timmerman

The Gophers started their season with a victory in three sets against Notre Dame on Friday night.

But the next night proved to be tougher, as Minnesota dropped its match to Louisville in four sets.

The Gophers trailed early but bounced back in the second set before losing the next two.

The young Minnesota team struggled with fixable errors throughout the match. In four sets, the Gophers had 25 hitting errors.

“On both sides there were lots of mistakes at inappropriate times,” head coach Hugh McCutcheon said.

Each set was close until the end, but Louisville’s offense took a toll on Minnesota’s defense.

“We’ve got to learn to be cleaner on the defensive end,” McCutcheon said.

The Gophers were better defensively Friday.

The first match of the season began with some jitters, McCutcheon said.

“Once we settled down, it was a pretty good performance,” McCutcheon said.

Junior outside hitter Daly Santana led the team with 13 kills. McCutcheon said he was happy with Santana’s performance.

“She made big plays when we needed her,” McCutcheon said.

Santana is one of three upperclassmen on the team and the only junior. Despite this, she seemed coy about serving as a team leader and said the title is something she would like to work toward.

“We’re all leaders,” Santana said. “We try to motivate each other in many different ways.”

Friday also marked freshman libero Dalianliz Rosado’s first match with the Gophers. Rosado was the starting libero and led the team with eight digs.

Rosado seemed excited after her first performance with Minnesota but said she needs to work on her angles while passing.

McCutcheon agreed that Rosado has room to improve, but overall, he seemed satisfied with her performance.

“She’s such a good player,” McCutcheon said. “We’re so glad she’s here.”

Rosado and the Gophers will play in the Yale Tournament in New Haven, Conn., against host Yale, Boston College and Albany next weekend.

But before that, the Gophers have logistics to work out.

“We’re going to have to learn to compete with the idea of minimizing mistakes and being patient enough to weather the storm,” McCutcheon said.