The Gophers dropped just one match in 11 nonconference games, but the Big Ten hasn’t been as kind to them.
Minnesota lost its seventh conference match in 11 opportunities to Indiana on Wednesday night.
The Gophers were looking for their first conference road victory, and though they won the first set, they weren’t able to keep the momentum and dropped the match in four sets.
Minnesota has now lost four of its last five matches.
Consistency was the issue for the Gophers on Wednesday, head coach Hugh McCutcheon said.
“When we come out strong, we have to stay strong throughout the whole match,” said junior outside hitter Daly Santana.
Santana said the team needed to be more consistent with its serves and its energy.
Minnesota led the Hoosiers in the first set, gaining a quick 8-3 lead. Indiana fought back, but the Gophers ended up taking the set.
The second set was a different story — the teams went back and forth, with five lead changes. But Indiana eventually took a 20-16 lead and finished the set strong to get a victory.
Sophomore setter Katie Schau suffered an injury in the second set, and sophomore Erica Handley replaced her. Schau didn’t return for the rest of the match.
Indiana brought its momentum into the third set, and even though the Gophers came close to taking an edge, the Hoosiers outplayed them.
“There was just a bunch of little things that didn’t really click,” Handley said.
To adjust, Minnesota replaced sophomore Hannah Tapp in the middle with freshman Molly Lohman for the fourth set.
The small change seemed to work for the Gophers, as they came out with a 6-3 lead on Indiana.
The set was tight all the way through, and a service error by Adrianna Nora put the Hoosiers at match point.
Despite that, the Gophers rallied back to tie it at 25-25.
The fourth set went into extra points, and the Gophers came alive at the end of the set.
But on an ace, Indiana ended the long set and match at 35-33.
“We had a chance to turn it into a fifth, but it just didn’t go our way,” McCutcheon said.
The Gophers’ defense struggled at times throughout the match.
“[It was a] little bit frantic back there, [but] other times we were doing well,” he said. “We got caught in the moment. We got away from the plan a little bit.”
Handley said the Gophers needed to keep focusing on the next point and stick with their plan.
“Essentially, it comes down to us being a little more consistent,” McCutcheon said. “We could have performed a little better.”