Minnesota doing its best to avoid complacency

Sophomore middle blocker Lauren Gibbemeyer ties to finish off a kill at the Sports Pavilion. Gibbemeyer and the Gophers will host three games this weekend against some less flashy competition that weeks past.

Jennifer Whalen

Sophomore middle blocker Lauren Gibbemeyer ties to finish off a kill at the Sports Pavilion. Gibbemeyer and the Gophers will host three games this weekend against some less flashy competition that weeks past.

After dominating last weekendâÄôs tournament which included plenty of national talent, the Minnesota volleyball team could be its own biggest competition this weekend. The Gophers will fight to avoid complacency as they host three unranked teams this weekend at the Sports Pavilion to close out the nonconference schedule. Minnesota will face TCU on Friday at 7:30 p.m., Winthrop on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. and North Carolina on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. And while coach Mike Hebert said he would touch on the topic of complacency, he also said he didnâÄôt feel this would be a real problem with this particular team. âÄúThis teamâÄôs hunger level is significant,âÄù he said. âÄúThey went through a really rough time last year, and you donâÄôt get rid of that taste overnight just by winning a couple of matches.âÄù The âÄúcouple of matchesâÄù he referred to included a three-set sweep of then No. 4 California, but it doesnâÄôt appear to be something the Gophers will dwell on, as just two days removed from the tournament, Hebert and his team were already breaking down the weaker points of the weekend. Hebert and sophomores Brook Dieter and Lauren Gibbemeyer all said the team would be working harder on blocking the opponentâÄôs left-side hitters. âÄúWe need to work on closing the block,âÄù Gibbemeyer said. âÄúThat means making sure thereâÄôs not a seam between our right-side and our middle blocker. So that means their hands have to be together.âÄù âÄúWe also need to work on keeping our hands low and as far over the net as we can, to take away the sharp angle,âÄù she said. Along with that, Hebert said there was one rotation that the team has struggled with so far this season. âÄúItâÄôs like playing in chapters,âÄù he said. âÄúEach rotation is different. We have one that we have to fix.âÄù Minnesota will, of course, continue to work on the passing, serving and receiving of serve that has already shown marked improvement so far this season. The Gophers may have some time to perfect these skills however, as TCUâÄôs best swinger is only 5âÄô10âÄù, Winthrop (3-6) is hitting .158 as a team and North Carolina (4-4) doesnâÄôt have a player averaging more than 2.21 kills per set. TCU (10-1) has yet to play a ranked team, but will likely continue to rely on junior outside hitter Lauren Otto for most of the kills against the Gophers. Otto averages 3.41 kills per set, while junior middle blocker Kourtney Edwards adds to the threat with 2.53 kills per set and a .343 hit percentage. Winthrop has more height, with a 6âÄô2âÄù senior outside hitter in Shannon Sitzmann taking 3.33 kills per match while hitting .336. But the rest of the team has not been much help, with only one other player hitting above .160. North Carolina might cause the biggest problem for Minnesota, as the Tar Heels have been solid defensively, averaging three blocks per set to help hold opponents to a .141 hit percentage. But North Carolina hasnâÄôt hit very well either, notching a percentage of .159. This tournament doesnâÄôt have the big names last week did, but for the Gophers, Dieter said it doesnâÄôt matter. Minnesota has no plans to lose focus âÄúYou canâÄôt relax, because you never know,âÄù sophomore Brook Dieter said. âÄúThere have been so many upsets this year. This weekend we need to come out and play our best, and try to show that we are just that much better than our opponents.âÄù