Gophers sweep Iowa on the road

by Lindsay Guentzel

The 16th-ranked Gophers took care of business on Wednesday, sweeping unranked Iowa on the road in three unstable sets. While the Big Ten victory is a cause for celebration, the 14-3 Gophers realized they have a long road ahead of them before facing the tougher teams in the conference. âÄúIt was clear we still have a lot of work to do in practice,âÄù said junior Stephanie Nucci. âÄúBut I think it gives us more confidence.âÄù As the teamâÄôs starting setter, Nucci had 44 assists and five digs for the GophersâÄîwithout seeing any playing time in over two weeks. The Gophers improved their Big Ten record to 4-1 and climbed into second place, but head coach Mike Hebert had his concerns about how the team played against Iowa. âÄúTo me, it looked like we were playing in 10 feet of water all night long,âÄù head coach Mike Hebert said. âÄúWe just never got it going.âÄù Though the Gophers didnâÄôt spend much time in trouble against the unranked Hawkeyes, winning 25-21, 25-16, 25-18, they struggled to go on any long runs and fell behind 17-14 in the first set. There were also some highlights for the Gophers, however. Freshman Ashley Wittman notched her ninth double-double of the season, leading the team with 15 kills and 13 digs while junior Ariana Filho finished with 10 kills and three blocksâÄîearning her the praise of Hebert. âÄú[Filho] carried out her assignments with a lot of confidence,âÄù he said. Coming off a career-high performance against Purdue last weekend, junior libero Jessica GranquistâÄîthis weekâÄôs Big Ten Defensive Player of the WeekâÄîfinished the match with 15 digs. âÄúIt was solid but we could definitely have room for improvement,âÄù she said. âÄúWe could improve on the overall flow and just keeping it more steady throughout the game.âÄù Nucci added: âÄúWe have a lot of good hitters and our passing has been there. The biggest thing for us right now is our defense and being consistent with that.âÄù The Gophers continue their road trip against No. 24 Northwestern on Sunday, and Hebert said he isnâÄôt changing his approach at practice this week to prepare for the stiffer competition. âÄúYou keep coaching and hopefully at some point the team will recognize that it needs to get itself prepared to play at a higher level,âÄù he said. âÄúYou just keep teaching the same things and at some point they will settle in.âÄù