Gophers fall to Oregon

No. 9 Minnesota loses to No. 12 Oregon, beats Georgia Tech and Denver

by Aleutian Calabay

The No. 9 Minnesota volleyball team left for Denver with hopes of a tournament sweep in the Pioneer Classic. Those hopes were quickly dashed as the Gophers lost to No. 12 Oregon on Friday night in five hard-fought sets, 22-25, 25-27, 25-22, 25-15 and 10-15. Minnesota bounced right back with a pair of victories. First beating Georgia Tech on Saturday afternoon in four sets, with scores of 25-19, 25-17, 25-27 and 25-18 . Then taking down tournament host Denver on Saturday night in straight sets 25-21, 25-17 and 25-20. The wins gave Minnesota a second place finish in the tournament. âÄúWeâÄôre in the process of trying to accommodate eight new players to join the six returners,âÄù Minnesota Head Coach Mike Hebert said. âÄúItâÄôs been an up and down process, but it takes some time to work itself out into a more consistent performance.âÄù As continues to be the trend, the one-two combination of juniors Brook Dieter and Lauren Gibbemeyer led the Gophers over the weekend. Between the three matches, Dieter had an impressive 53 kills and 27 digs. Gibbemeyer posted 40 kills along with 20 blocks. Sophomore middle blocker Ariana Filho from Monument, Col. had a solid homecoming by scoring 29 kills, including a career-high 11 against Oregon. She was named to the all-tournament team along with Gibbemeyer. Senior Christine Tan was named the tournamentâÄôs top libero . Senior setter Taylor Carico amassed a total of 98 assists and freshman Tabitha Love continued her progression by chipping in 20 kills. The Gophers (9-3) knew heading into the tournament that Oregon (10-0) would be a tough opponent âÄî what was surprising was just how closely the teams matched up. Both teams had 62 kills, 60 digs and 57 assists. The five sets featured 24 tie scores and nine lead changes. âÄúOregon was a good competition for us,âÄù Filho said. âÄúThey ran a pretty quick offense, which is something that weâÄôre going to need to be used to for the Big Ten season. Teams like that are good for us to see how we handle challenging situations.âÄù Already up two sets to none, Oregon appeared poised to close Minnesota out when they took an 11-7 lead in the third set. With their backs against the wall, the Gophers began battling back, going on an 8-2 run to grab the lead. With the score tied at 20, Minnesota finally made their move, taking a 24-20 lead and then later finishing off the set with a kill by Filho for the 25-22 win. Without missing a beat, the Gophers continued their upward swing into the fourth set by taking a 9-4 lead. Oregon never got within four points in the set as Minnesota dominated the hitting percentage .625 to .080 en route to a 25-15 victory. The decisive fifth set began with a three-all tie. Then Oregon took control, outscoring Minnesota 8-1. Back-to-back kills by Dieter and Filho got the Gophers to within three at 11-8, but Oregon proved to be too tough as they won the set and the match at 15-10. Oregon claimed the tournament title on Saturday as they beat Denver in three sets by scores 25-15, 25-20 and 25-16. The Gophers set out to get rid of the taste of defeat as they squared off against Georgia Tech. Minnesota grabbed a 7-5 lead in the first set and never looked back. Dieter, Gibbemeyer and Love each had four kills as the Gophers took the set 25-19. It was more Gophers domination in the second set as Minnesota didnâÄôt allow a single kill, outhitting the Yellow Jackets .421 to .000. The Gophers cruised to a 25-17 win in the set. Georgia Tech came out in the third set looking to prove themselves. The lead bounced back and forth eight times throughout the set, until after fighting off a match point at 25-24, the Yellow Jackets scored to the last three points for the 27-25 win. The fourth set began with the teams battling even. The score was tied at 11 when the Gophers began pulling away. Back-to-back kills by Dieter gave Minnesota a 22-17 lead, who would finish off the Yellow Jackets with a score of 25-18. Minnesota didnâÄôt have long to savor the victory as they moved on to play Denver later Saturday night. The Gophers opened up a 7-4 lead over the Pioneers in the first set. Denver eventually took a 14-13 lead, but Love would score three kills in four plays to give Minnesota a lead they would not give up as they went on to win 25-21. Minnesota maintained momentum going into the second set. The Gophers appeared to be running away with the set as they led 15-6, but Denver would make it interesting by going on a 7-0 run to cut the lead to three. That was as close as the Pioneers were going to get. Dieter hit three kills in a row as Minnesota regained control and won 25-17. The third set found the lead bouncing back and forth until the score was tied at 15. Then the a pair of kills by senior Megan Wilson gave the Gophers a boost as they began to roll, going on to win the set and the match at 25-20. Minnesota kicks off Big Ten conference play at home against Wisconsin on Friday.