Road match results in another victory

Matt Anderson

With the schedule taking Minnesota’s volleyball team to No. 22 Purdue and always-dangerous Illinois next weekend, Friday’s match against Big Ten cellar-dweller Indiana figured to be an easy road tune up for the Gophers.

But when the Hoosiers played well, the match turned into a true road test. To listen to coach Mike Hebert, Minnesota passed with flying colors.

The Gophers (15-2 overall, 5-1 Big Ten) beat Indiana 30-23, 30-26 and 24-20 in Bloomington, Ind., on Friday night.

Though the Hoosiers (8-10, 1-5) are tied for last in the Big Ten, Hebert said Indiana was better-than-advertised.

“We played very well,” he said. “Indiana played a couple levels higher than we anticipated they would. They were very good themselves, so we were challenged (Friday) night. But we responded well.”

After the first game stayed close until late, Minnesota ran off nine of 12 points to take a 28-21 lead which effectively sealed the first frame.

The second game saw the Gophers fall down 26-24, but Jessy Jones and Kyla Roehrig combined for a pair of key blocks during a 6-0 Minnesota run that clinched the second game for a two-games-to-none lead.

In game three, Minnesota went on a late 18-10 run to close out a straight games win over the Hoosiers.

Before the match, Hebert had highlighted Indiana as one of the top blocking teams in the Big Ten. The Gophers were able to defend the Hoosiers’ blocking game, as they finished the match even in blocks with Indiana at five.

Senior libero Paula Gentil said Minnesota’s success against Indiana’s blocking was a multifaceted effort.

“First of all, we have good hitters,” Gentil said. “Second, we have very good people that can recover a ball when it gets blocked. And that doesn’t count as a block.”

Along with his team’s block defense, Hebert said he was pleased with Minnesota’s offensive efficiency. The Gophers

hit for a percentage of .312, which, according to Hebert, signified a step up from where the offense had been earlier this season.

Sophomore outside hitter Sarah Florian was one of three Minnesota players in double-digit kills with 12, and registered 11 digs, giving her a double-double.

“I was kind of feeling in rhythm,” Florian said. “And things seem to be falling into place for me; so it was fun to be out there.”

Headed into the second half of the season, Hebert said the win over Indiana gave him a positive read on his team.

“I think it adds to our confidence,” Hebert said. “We can go on the road – and be challenged like that – and still play in a very stable fashion. That’s what you look for on the road, is just emotional stability.”

Florian echoed those sentiments heading into a much tougher road trip this coming weekend.

“I think we’re playing well,” she said. “And we have a long week of practice ahead of us that will give us some time to work a few things out that we needed to take care of. But I think after that, we’ll be good to go for this weekend.”