Gophers dominate No. 7 Florida

After dropping back-to-back matches, the Gophers got back on track in their home opener.

Middle Blocker Taylor Morgan jumps to spike the ball at the Maturi Pavilion on Saturday, Sept. 7. The Gophers defeated Florida 3 sets to 0 for their home opener.

Jack Rodgers

Middle Blocker Taylor Morgan jumps to spike the ball at the Maturi Pavilion on Saturday, Sept. 7. The Gophers defeated Florida 3 sets to 0 for their home opener.

Nolan O'Hara

It was a dominant performance by the Gophers volleyball team on Saturday, as they took down the No. 7 Florida Gators to get their second win of the season.

The Gophers won the match in straight sets: 25-20, 25-17 and 25-22. It was an all-around team effort by Minnesota in the first. Opposite hitter Stephanie Samedy, outside hitter Adanna Rollins and middle blocker Regan Pittman combined for 11 kills in the set. Florida led early, but it wasn’t long before the Gophers were able to climb back. They went up 7-6, and led for the remainder of the set. Outside hitter Alexis Hart was able to close out the first with a kill, giving the Gophers a 1-0 edge in their home opener. 

“I think the crowd was a huge advantage,” setter Kylie Miller said. “The fans were loud, everybody was there, it was just really nice to feel the support.” 

Saturday was Miller’s first game playing at Maturi Pavilion for the maroon and gold. She transferred to Minnesota in January.

“It was much better being on this side of the court,” she said laughing. 

The Gophers’ defensive intensity was the driving force behind their win in the second. Liberos C.C. McGraw and Rachel Kilkelly both made incredible digs in a possession that ended in a Samedy kill, giving the Gophers an 11-9 lead. They would go on to win the set 25-17. McGraw and Kilkelly finished the match with a combined 21 digs. Rollins had a team-high 13 digs.

The Gophers held Florida to a .043 hit percentage in the second set. 

“It was good,” head coach Hugh McCutcheon said of the Gophers’ defensive performance. “I was particularly impressed with [McGraw] and [Kilkelly], I thought they both did a good job back there. Certainly, [Rollins] had a few nice digs and some good tip coverage, and I think overall that can be a strength for us.”

Florida didn’t back down in the third. Miller opened the set with an ace, but Florida answered with a 4-0 run. They held a slim lead until Minnesota went on a 6-0 run, giving them a 17-13 advantage. Later in the third, the Gophers took a 20-15 lead after a Pittman and Rollins block. Florida answered once again, this time with a 3-0 run. In the end, it wasn’t enough. Hart and Samedy combined for the team’s final five kills, giving the Gophers a sweep in their home opener. 

“One thing we wanted to work on was our presence coming onto the court,” Samedy said. “Just wanting to get out there and compete from the start and just play Gopher volleyball. I think we did that.” 

The Gophers will play again in the Big Ten/PAC 12 Challenge on Sept. 13 and 14. They’ll take on No. 9 Oregon and No. 1 Stanford.