Minnesota prevails at Yale Invite

The Gophers improved to 4-1 with three victories at the Yale Invitational.

Minnesota outside hitter Daly Santana spikes during a match against Wisconsin on Oct. 17, 2012 at the Sports Pavilion.

Daily File Photo, Anthony Kwan

Minnesota outside hitter Daly Santana spikes during a match against Wisconsin on Oct. 17, 2012 at the Sports Pavilion.

Rachel Timmerman

The Gophers controlled play at the Yale Invitational last weekend, defeating all three teams in the tournament.

But the sweep didn’t come without a challenge from Boston College.

On Saturday morning, Minnesota rallied from behind and defeated Boston College in five sets.

The Gophers started down early, losing the first two sets. But in the third set, head coach Hugh McCutcheon put in sophomore setter Erica Handley — a move that paid off.

“We just wanted to give it a different look,” McCutcheon said.

Handley played the rest of the match against Boston College, helping lead her team to a victory, and she was the team’s starting setter against Albany. Handley had 60 assists over the weekend.

“I was just trying to be as confident as I could,” Handley said.

 On Friday, junior outside hitter Daly Santana appeared confident, too. She led the team in kills, digs and blocks in its match against Yale.

“Friday was a great day, but there are still things I can work on,” Santana said, noting that consistency is one of those issues.

McCutcheon said he was happy with Santana’s play last weekend.

“That night, [Santana] was obviously pretty golden,” McCutcheon said. “I was very proud of her this weekend.”

Although the first set Friday night against Yale started out rough, the Gophers came back and beat the Bulldogs in three sets.

“We were certainly a lot cleaner in sets two and three,” McCutcheon said. “[But] we were able to hang in there and grind it out. It was a nice win.”

After two closer matches at the start of the weekend, Minnesota swept Albany on Saturday night, winning quickly in three sets.

The match allowed McCutcheon to use some of his alternates.

Santana and sophomore outside hitter Sarah Wilhite were named to the all-tournament team, while senior opposite Adrianna Nora was named tournament MVP. Nora had 28 kills and hit for .377 over the weekend.

Though the Gophers prevailed at the Yale Invitational, McCutcheon and his players said they still see room for improvement.

“I think there’s a lot to learn from this weekend,” Santana said. “[But] I’m really proud of the team because we were able to ride it out and come up with three wins.”

Handley said she felt good about the matches this weekend, adding that the team focused on its fundamentals.

“We’re just trying to work as a team to get better for the future games,” Handley said.