Gophers fall in five sets at home to No. 14 Nebraska

Minnesota fell to 3-6 in Big Ten play and has lost three consecutive matches.

by Rachel Timmerman

Coming off two losses to Wisconsin last week, the Gophers returned home Wednesday to take on No. 14 Nebraska.

Minnesota took the Huskers to five sets, winning the first two, but was unable to finish the match.

The Gophers started off strong by taking the first set away from the Huskers. They repeated that in the second set, pulling ahead early and winning it by nine points.

But the third set was tighter, with the teams tied 19-19 at the end of the match. The Huskers ultimately pulled away with a 25-21 victory.

Head coach Hugh McCutcheon said Nebraska altered its side of the court in the third set to adjust to Minnesota, and sophomore middle blocker Hannah Tapp said the team needs to be able to adjust to those changes more quickly and to keep its composure.

“When they weren’t giving away as many points and we had to start earning them, it certainly got tougher,” McCutcheon said.

Coming into the fourth set, Minnesota’s energy seemed to be down, and Nebraska took advantage of that.

Senior right-side hitter Adrianna Nora said knowing the Gophers had won the first two sets altered the team’s mindset.

“We started thinking about the result,” McCutcheon said. “When we kind of lost our mojo, it was tough to get it back.”

The Gophers started the fifth set with a kill from sophomore Sarah Wilhite. But the team wasn’t able to maintain that energy and dropped the last set.

Throughout the match, junior outside hitter Daly Santana was consistent and smart with the placement of her hits.

McCutcheon said the team struggled with offense the most in the last three sets, but he added that the defensive end was clean.

“Defensively, primarily, I thought Dalianliz [Rosado] did a very nice job for us, both in serve receive and in defense,” McCutcheon said.

The Gophers’ defense was intact early in the match, allowing for sophomore setter Katie Schau to set to a range of hitters and utilize the middle and right sides.

“It’s always good when we can spread out the offense,” Tapp said. “It makes it harder on the other team.”

Despite the loss, it was evident that the Gophers’ communication and overall team chemistry had improved.

But Tapp said the team has to maintain its composure and stay at a high level of competition.

“[We need to make] sure that we’re competitive and consistently competitive rather than having all these ups and downs,” Tapp said.

The Gophers will welcome Iowa to the Sports Pavilion on Saturday and will try to break their three-loss streak.

“We got some fire in our bellies, that’s for sure,” Nora said.