Quick turnaround doesn’t faze Gophers

Minnesota will face North Dakota State 3 days after playing at Texas.

by Megan Ryan

With conference play less than two weeks away, the Gophers volleyball team has just a few more preseason matches left.

And they’re coming in rapid succession.

Minnesota will host North Dakota State on Monday after splitting a series away at Texas on Thursday and Friday.

While the quick turnaround gave the Gophers less than three days to prepare, junior outside hitter Ashley Wittman said the team will be ready for the border battle.

“I definitely think we can handle it,” Wittman said. “I think we’re used to either practicing or playing in a game.”

Wittman also said the team’s loss to Texas on Friday would fuel the team to defeat North Dakota State.

The Gophers have a good chance of defeating the Bison if history is any indication. Minnesota has an 11-1 all-time record against North Dakota State, including a 4-0 mark since the Bison moved to Division I.

In fact, all three times the Bison have made the NCAA tournament, the Gophers have knocked them out in the first round in straight sets.

This year, North Dakota State holds a 3-6 record compared to Minnesota’s 6-1.

While the competition may be a step down from highly ranked Texas, head coach Hugh McCutcheon said games function as practice sessions — especially with few official practices in between.

“Every competitive opportunity is a chance to improve,” he said. “So, I like it that we’re going back into battle right away.”

McCutcheon said the team will work throughout the weekend to switch gears for North Dakota State.

Freshman outside hitter Daly Santana said she wasn’t too concerned about how the team would deal with the rapid shift.

“We’re going to watch video. We’re going to practice for it. We’re going to be mentally and physically prepared,” Santana said. “It’s rough, but we’re prepared for that.”