Gophers dominate at the Diet Coke Classic

The team now heads into Big Ten play with a five-game win streak.

Redshirt Senior Taylor Morgan, left, and Sophomore Adanna Rollins, right, jump to block a spike at the Maturi Pavilion on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. The Gophers defeated Oral Roberts three matches to none.

Kamaan Richards

Redshirt Senior Taylor Morgan, left, and Sophomore Adanna Rollins, right, jump to block a spike at the Maturi Pavilion on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. The Gophers defeated Oral Roberts three matches to none.

Nolan O'Hara

The Gophers closed out their non-conference schedule and the Diet Coke Classic Saturday, with a dominant performance against Oral Roberts at a sold-out Maturi Pavilion. 

The Gophers won the match in straight sets: 25-15, 25-9 and 25-12. Minnesota had it going early. Outside hitter Adanna Rollins had back-to-back kills early in the first which sprung the Gophers into a 5-2 lead. Oral Roberts trailed for the remainder of the set. Opposite hitter Stephanie Samedy and middle blocker Shea Rubright combined for back-to-back blocks late in the set to give the Gophers a 24-15 lead, and a kill by outside hitter Alexis Hart put the set away for Minnesota. 

The Gophers didn’t let up in the second. Minnesota opened the set on a 5-0 run following consecutive aces from setter Kylie Miller. The Gophers extended their lead 7-1, before Oral Roberts called timeout. Out of the timeout, middle blocker Taylor Morgan had back-to-back kills, combined with Samedy on a block and followed the block with another kill, extending Minnesota’s lead to 11-1. That capped a 6-0 run from the Gophers. For Oral Roberts, it didn’t get much better from there. Morgan and Samedy combined for a block once again, giving the Gophers a 12-2 lead. Minnesota led the entire set, and Miller closed out the second with an ace. 

“I felt like we were just really connected today,” Morgan said. “We were operating on all cylinders like Hugh [McCutcheon] said. We were just doing what we do, being very efficient, very clean. It was a good night for everybody.”

The third set wasn’t any more favorable for Oral Roberts. Libero C.C. McGraw recorded three aces during her serving rotation early in the third. Her rotation at the service line shot the Gophers into a 12-2 lead. The Gophers were consistent and didn’t let up. Eventually, an Oral Roberts error gave Minnesota the set and the sweep.

“I thought it was a strong performance, really consistent across all phases of the game. A nice way to end the preseason,” head coach Hugh McCutcheon said. 

The Gophers closed out their non-conference schedule on a five-game win streak as they approach Big Ten play. One of the keys to the Gophers’ success over this stretch is the team’s closeness and camaraderie. 

“We’re very connected. We love to joke around with each other in the locker room, on and off the court,” Morgan said. “And when we’re on the court we just connect, it doesn’t matter if it’s in practices or in games, we’re just always connected. I think that is going to be one of our biggest strengths going through this year.” 

The Gophers will be back in action this weekend when they take on Indiana and No. 21 Purdue at Maturi Pavilion.