Gophers overpower Mustangs in four games, improve to 7-1

by Mark Heise

Minnesota continued its impressive weekend, capping a four-set win over Cal Poly, 25-18, 25-12, 25-27, 27-25 to improve to a 7-1 record. Lauren Gibbemeyer and Brook Dieter collected 15 kills apiece to lead the team offensively, while Christine Tan picked up 27 digs on defense, and Pamela Luiz added 17. The Gophers out-hit Cal Poly .203 to .087, and out-blockd the Mustangs 10-8 in the win. Krista Chin has the rest of the details. Mark Heise: Question of the day: (remember, you can ask Krista a question, just email [email protected] with the subject line “Question of the Day”): “Strategically, how does the block and the back row work with each other?” –Jim, from Eagan, Minnesota. Krista Chin: As mentioned previously tonight, much of the task of the back row players is to work around the block, fill in the holes, and dig some balls. The coaching staff and the front court typically will discuss their blocking scheme for the night. Often times, you will see middle blockers commit to the opponent’s “hot hitter” leaving another blocker one on one. If this occurs, you may notice the defensive players shading more towards the solo blocker, getting prepared for the opposing setter to set towards the lone block. When a team puts up a double block, the defense will work around this by either filling in the seam, or hole in the block, or if the block is closed, staying deep in order to dig any deflections made off the block. For a back row attack, the decision to put up one, two, or even three blockers will be made. The back court will then work around this and resort to digging “in their lanes.” This term is used to refer to the three positions in the back court, right back, middle back, and left back. The blockers will be told to take away a certain lane, forcing the diggers to shade to a different position and help out the player whose lane is open. If a team does choose to put up three blockers, the defenders must stay deep for deflections off the block, however, they will need to be aware of the tip that a hitter with good vision will see. MH: Player of the match? KC: Minnesota’s setter, Rachel Hartmann, is tonight’s player of the match. Hartmann set an exceptional match for the Gophers, getting her hitters one on one as much as possible. She made smart setting choices and spread the ball around. Four players had eight kills or more, many of which were uncontested. During the third and fourth set, Cal Poly was trying to take Hartmann out of the setting pattern by hitting to her, but she stayed calm and finished with 11 kills on the night. MH: What impressed you tonight? KC: Brook Dieter’s ability to come out of the intermission and put away some balls for the Gophers was outstanding. She was limited to five kills during the first two sets, and she really stepped up to the challenge of helping out the team during a hard fought third and fourth set. She finished with 15 kills on the night and a .282 hitting clip. I was very impressed with Minnesota’s flair and ability in keeping confidence and staying composed during the third and fourth set. According to Head Coach Mike Hebert, “Cal Poly is an opponent that doesn’t let you get comfortable…they just keep hanging around until they see their opening.” Cal Poly put up a great fight, and their go-to hitter Kylie Atherstone really stepped up. This could have proposed some challenges for the Gophers, but they fought off eight tie scores in the fourth set to claim the victory. Cal Poly’s setter, Hailey Fithian, was impressive tonight as she kept her composure throughout this match. She had the utmost confidence in her hitters, even if they were struggling a bit, and it was nice to see a setter have so much trust and faith in her teammates. MH: Keys to the match? KC: A big key to the match was Kyla Roehrig’s offense and defense during the second set. She was putting the ball away and putting up a huge wall at the net to help shut down Cal Poly’s Kylie Atherstone. Roehrig was making some smart shots by tooling the blockers and hitting high hands for some kills. Another key to the match was Atherstone’s ability to step up and shake off a rough second set. She went into the intermission with a negative hitting percentage, and by the end of the night she led the team with 13 kills. It is always inspiring to see good players, like Atherstone, take a team on her shoulders and help turn the match around.