Gophers win at Williams

Robert Mews

A change of venue for the Minnesota volleyball team didn’t do much to change the result of serving up a home victory.

The 18th-ranked Gophers (18-5, 8-4 Big Ten) hosted their first and only home match this season at Williams Arena against the Hoosiers (9-14, 2-9 Big Ten). Minnesota won the match convincingly in three games Saturday night, 30-21, 30-20, 30-18.

The win puts them into a tie with Ohio State for fourth place in the Big Ten.

“I think tonight, we were just a better, quicker team,” coach Mike Hebert said.

The Gophers were the quicker team on offense. They came out passing the ball accurately and that resulted in some big kills by the front court.

Minnesota out hit the Hoosiers in the first game .469 to .227, and had 19 kills to Indiana’s 10. Outside hitter Sarah Florian knocked down three of those kills in the first game.

“I think you’ll notice when our pass is on, we’re pretty much unstoppable,” Florian said about the front row production.

Something that was difficult for the Hoosiers to stop, aside from the strong hitting in the first game, was the Gophers ability to serve. With Minnesota leading the first game 11-7, All-American libero Paula Gentil had three straight aces in the middle of a 5-0 run. The Gophers finished the match with 12 service aces – that’s the most this season for a team averaging 1.42 aces a game.

“I think we try to strategize where their weakest passers may be,” Florian said about the team’s serving approach.

The Gophers also did produce seven service errors in the first game, as some serves missed short.

Minnesota came out in the second game playing determined and at times was one step ahead of the Hoosiers. The Gophers recorded 19 kills in the second game.

However, Indiana also came out hitting well. They had 14 kills in the second game – led by senior outside hitter Rachel Gerling, who recorded six kills and hit the ball for .462 percent in the second game.

“We changed our offense and we changed our starting lineups since the last time we played them,” sophomore middle blocker Jessy Jones said. “So it threw them off.”

Jones said she’s been playing with a herniated disc and a degenerative disc. She played through the injury, but she said she tries to “not let her teammates know” when it’s bothering her.

Despite the injury, Jones finished the match with seven kills, a .500 hitting percentage and led the team with two blocks.

Junior outside hitter Meghan Cumpston also had a strong game. The junior finished the match with 13 kills – her second match this week with more than 10 kills.

What surprised Hebert more than the Gophers’ hitting and attacking in the match, was Indiana’s poor execution with passing.

“They were just nails last time we played them,” Hebert said. “And tonight they struggled.”