Gophers take Iowa in three

In its Big Ten Network debut, Minnesota swept the Hawkeyes to go to 3-0 in the conference.

by Mark Heise

It might not have been the best effort for the Minnesota volleyball team, but the Gophers’ play was enough to earn them their third straight conference win.

No. 12 Minnesota (10-3 overall, 3-0 Big Ten) cruised past Iowa’s dormant offense in three games Wednesday night, winning 30-24, 30-17, 32-30 despite not playing, as coach Mike Hebert called it, to their potential.

“I don’t think we played to our potential tonight, and I’m not satisfied with how things went,” he said. “We made an awful lot of silly mistakes for a good part of the match, including passing. We’re going to hit the practice floor pretty hard these next couple of days.”

Iowa (8-6, 0-3) hit just .079, hitting into the Gophers’ block consistently while continuing to struggle on offense this season.

After losing a starter to injury last weekend, Hawkeyes sophomore outside hitter Megan Schipper was the only real bright spot for a team looking for positives. Schipper collected 11 kills while hitting .286 in the effort.

Senior outside hitter Jessy Jones led Minnesota offensively, recording 12 kills and a .333 hitting percentage. Jones said she’d always be happy with a conference win but felt the team could have done more to try and improve themselves.

“Coming in here, we knew we had the upper hand and that they’d have to do something special to beat us, so it was more of us just trying to improve every time we get on the court,” she said. “So we’re not insanely happy with our performance because we don’t feel that we got better as a team.”

“But then again, if you look at the grand scheme of things, a win in the Big Ten is huge, so I guess it is a confidence builder and a notch up.”

Defensively, the team had been working on footwork and playing hard even when away from the ball, and this was something sophomore Christine Tan said the team could take away from the game.

“I think we did a great job at that,” she said. “We’ve been working to make sure that we’re in position and prepared to make a play at any time. I think we did a better job in those areas, and that will become more important as we take on some more powerful teams.”

Tan finished the day with 16 digs and two aces.

Minnesota broke away late in game one, recording a 4-0 run to pull ahead 24-19, and finishing the game strong with a kill from freshman outside hitter Brook Dieter. Jones led the way with four kills.

In the second game, the Gophers looked more like themselves, taking a commanding lead early at 17-10, and expanding it into double digits en route to a 30-17 win.

Minnesota hit a solid .314 while collecting 15 kills. Sophomore Rachelle Hagerty was one of the beneficiaries of a well-spread offense, which featured six different attackers, picking up three kills in the game. Hagerty had seven for the match.

The final game was the closest of the three, as the Hawkeyes opened up just their third lead of the night at 23-22. Iowa held a lead as late in the game as 27-26, but the Gophers settled down to pick up a 32-30 win, avoiding what would have been just the second loss of a game in the team’s last ten meetings.

“I thought we played the critical points well at the end of game one and game three,” Hebert said afterward “We were right on task as far as that was concerned.”