Gophers sweep Diet Coke Classic at the Pavilion

With three wins this weekend, Minnesota improved its record to 7-1 this season.

Rachel Timmerman

Junior outside hitter Daly Santana ended the Diet Coke Classic on Saturday night with a kill that won the Gophers the match and tournament.

Santana, the tournament MVP, led the Gophers to a 3-0 victory.

Santana’s father attended Saturday, playing the national anthem on trumpet before the night’s game. Daly Santana said the performance reminded her how she got to where she is today.

“It gave me a lot of energy for the game and the season to come,” Santana said.

The Gophers concluded the tournament with a victory against Iowa State.

Minnesota started out strong, winning the first two sets, but fell to the Cyclones in the third set.

But the Gophers pulled out a victory in the fourth set to take the match.

“Lots of people contributed [to the victory],” head coach Hugh McCutcheon said. “That’s one of the great strengths of this group.”

On Friday, the Gophers defeated Tulsa 3-1, but McCutcheon said the team’s serve receive “broke down,” causing him to make numerous switches to compensate.

Freshman Dalianliz Rosado started as the libero, but freshman Alyssa Goehner replaced her in the third set. Sophomore Erica Handley started as setter, but McCutcheon took her out for a set before she returned to finish the match.

Goehner and Handley continued to start for the rest of the tournament.

“We have 14 good volleyball players,” McCutcheon said Friday. “I’m confident in all of our athletes.”

Senior opposite hitter Adrianna Nora said someone new could start for the team every day.

“It was cool to know that [McCutcheon] … trusts us [and] that we’re able to adapt around those kind of switches,” Nora said.

On Saturday morning against Milwaukee, Goehner and Handley led the team with 16 digs apiece.

Minnesota trailed early Saturday morning but came back to win 3-1.

“[I’m] happy with the win,” McCutcheon said. “It was a battle. We had some nice lessons learned.”

McCutcheon said he’d like to see more balance on the offensive side, specifically with the team’s connection with the middle hitter.

“Our offensive rhythm got a little squirrely at times,” McCutcheon said Saturday. “[But] I think we’re still good at the pin.”

Nora stood out this weekend for the Gophers, tallying the second-highest number of kills Friday behind Santana.

McCutcheon said he’s been impressed with Nora’s patience on the offensive end.

 “She’s getting lots of kills in lots of different ways,” McCutcheon said. “Generally, she only gets in trouble when she wants to hit hard.”

The tournament victory contributed to the Gophers’ 7-1 record.

“It was a great opportunity to improve in a lot of different ways,” McCutcheon said. “I’m just really proud of the team.”