Tough weekend for the Gophers leads to plenty of learning opportunities

The Gophers lost two straight games in Palo Alto, California this weekend but head coach Hugh McCutcheon said it’s a big learning opportunity.

Sophomore outside hitter Alexis Hart hits the ball at Maturi Pavilion during a set against the University of North Dakota on Friday, Dec. 1.

Alex Tuthill-Preus

Sophomore outside hitter Alexis Hart hits the ball at Maturi Pavilion during a set against the University of North Dakota on Friday, Dec. 1.

David Mullen

The No.1 Minnesota (5-2) lost two straight highly contest matches this weekend in the Big Ten/Pac-12 challenge against No. 18 Oregon (5-3) and No. 4 Stanford (6-1) in Palo Alto, California.

“This weekend was a big learning opportunity for us, said sophomore opposite hitter Stephanie Samedy. “Losing just really shows you some of your weaknesses and I think for us it was a good experience.”

The top-ranked Gophers went to California expecting two competitive matches against two ranked opponents. They faced off against No. 4 Stanford Sunday afternoon.

Although the match was mostly competitive, it was not the Gophers’ weekend. The Cardinal beat the Gophers in 4 sets: 23-25, 25-23, 17-25 and 23-25.

“We were here competing and battling tonight it just did not go our way,” head coach Hugh McCutcheon said.

Minnesota started the match taking a quick 12-7 lead in the first set against the Cardinal. After a kill by redshirt junior Taylor Morgan, the Gophers took a 14-8 lead but the Cardinal fought back.

Stanford scored four straight points and closed the gap to 14-12.

Both teams exchanged points back-and-forth leaving the score 20-16 in favor of the Gophers when the Cardinal went on the attack and won the set 25-23.

The Gophers responded and won in the second set 25-23 and Samedy credited the team focusing on the basics.

“We were just trying to go back to the basics and make sure we were good technically,” Samedy said.

Freshman outside hitter Adanna Rollins led the team with 17 points and 16 kills and said it wasn’t just her who played well.

“I was just doing everything I can to help the team and I thought that everyone contributed very well this weekend,” Rollins said.

The Gophers began their weekend squaring off against the University of Oregon Friday night.

The Ducks outlasted the Gophers in four contested sets winning the first two sets and the last set 25-23 over the Gophers.

Although the Gophers did not come out on top of the match, each set could have gone to either team.

“It was certainly frustrating to feel like we couldn’t close anything out the first night,” McCutcheon said. “Just a few plays here and there were the differences in the match, but it was obviously very competitive.”

In the third set the Gophers were trailing 14-10 when McCutcheon decided to call a timeout. The Gophers responded out of the break by tying the set at 14-14.

The Gophers and Ducks split points back and forth which left the set at 21-21. After, a pair of plays by Rollins put the Gophers ahead 23-21. The set went on until the Gophers finally took the set 27-25.

Samedy led the team with 19.5 points along with 17 kills. Junior Alexis Hart also had 14.5 points with 12 kills, three digs and five blocks.

“It’s not fun losing but the only good thing that comes from it is chances to learn and I think this group will do that,” McCutcheon said.