Cal feels wrath of Gophers

Just more than a year since California simultaneously hosted and ripped apart the Minnesota volleyball team, the Gophers returned the favor. Minnesota (8-1 overall) overpowered the fourth-ranked Golden Bears (7-1) in three sets Friday at the Sports Pavilion, highlighting a weekend that included a four-set win against No. 16 Cal Poly and a three-set sweep of Notre Dame. âÄúWeâÄôve been waiting for this match for about a year now, just because of how poorly we played there,âÄù coach Mike Hebert said. âÄúI think this match is a reflection on how far weâÄôve come, not only ability-wise, but in our chemistry as well.âÄù MinnesotaâÄôs passing was at its sharpest against California, perfectly receiving all 58 serves, while digging up bullets on kill attempts, and doing well enough to allow the Gophers to set to any of their three front-court options. âÄúOur counter-attacking was better than theirs,âÄù Hebert said. âÄúThat was the difference throughout the match.âÄù But the back court had plenty of help as well, as Minnesota blockers got hands-on shot attempts time after time, leading to 12 team blocks, including eight from sophomore middle blocker Lauren Gibbemeyer. Gibbemeyer, the eventual tournament MVP, led the team with 11 kills and a .450 hitting percentage as well, helping the Gophers to the win at 25-21, 25-20, 25-23. The win ties the highest-ranked school Minnesota has ever beaten, and included another milestone as senior outside hitter Kyla Roehrig collected her 1000th- career kill. âÄúI didnâÄôt really know until it happened,âÄù Roehrig said. âÄúWeâÄôre more focused on the matches and on improving as a team, so I was thinking about that at the time.âÄù Following the emotional high of the California upset, coach Mike Hebert said the team was âÄòemotionally drainedâÄô for the match against Cal Poly (5-4) Saturday. Regardless, Minnesota showed up as the dominant team, shutting down the MustangsâÄô star hitter Kylie Atherstone in the first two sets and frustrating her into a .000 hit percentage. Up two sets to none coming out of the break, the Gophers were forced to adjust however, as Cal Poly started to find a more successful strategy. âÄúThey started hitting down the line hard,âÄù Hebert said. âÄúI didnâÄôt think we responded to it as quickly as we could have.âÄù But Minnesota handled the setback, and defense once again led the way as the GophersâÄô 10 blocks and 87 digs held the Mustangs to a .087 hit percentage. Junior libero Christine Tan collected 27 digs and junior outside hitter Pamela Luiz added 17 as Minnesota won in four, 25-18, 25-12, 25-27, 27-25. âÄúOur defense has really picked it up, with [Tan] leading the back row and everyone else is doing a great job too,âÄù Gibbemeyer said. The GophersâÄô final game against Notre Dame (3-6) was a bit more sluggish than the previous two, but Minnesota was still by far the more-talented team. Notre Dame was held to a .202 hit percentage, and only blocked the Gophers once, losing quickly to Minnesota 25-19, 25-14, 25-21. The Gophers hit .358 as a team, with Roehrig collecting 15 kills on a .483 hit percentage, and senior middle blocker Kelly Schmidt adding eight kills and a .636 hit percentage. Gibbemeyer and Hebert agreed that the match was not the teamâÄôs best, but despite this, the weekend was certainly a success for Minnesota. âÄúObviously we didnâÄôt play as well as we did on Friday,âÄù Gibbemeyer said. âÄúBut even if we werenâÄôt playing as well, we still came out with the win, and thatâÄôs whatâÄôs really important.âÄù