Gophers win tournament

Minnesota has now won its last 13 sets in a row following a weekend sweep.

Sophomore Molly Lohman hits the ball at the Sports Pavilion on Saturday morning where the Gophers took on North Dakota State University.

Joe Sulik

Sophomore Molly Lohman hits the ball at the Sports Pavilion on Saturday morning where the Gophers took on North Dakota State University.

Emily Polglaze

After two road series, the Gophers were eager to return to Minnesota for a weekend. 
 
By Saturday evening, they took full advantage of playing at home and swept three teams in three matches to win the Diet Coke Classic.
 
“We’ve changed a lot from the first two weekends,” junior Hannah Tapp said. “It’s all been improvements, and we’re still on our way to meeting our potential.”
 
The sense of potential was apparent from the first set when Minnesota (5-2) shut down the University of California-Irvine Anteaters in three sets Fridayevening. 
 
Senior Daly Santana was key on offense for the Gophers with 15 kills on 26 attempts and only one error. 
 
Minnesota’s serving was also impactful on the night, with Santana and sophomore Molly Lohman tallying three aces each and freshman Samantha Seliger-Swenson getting two.
 
Lohman only had two service aces in her freshman season but earned six on the weekend.
 
“I’ve been working pretty hard on my serve, and it feels like it’s all coming together,” Lohman said. “If you can’t serve, you can’t play the game.” 
 
The Gophers kept the energy alive for an early-morning match on Saturday against North Dakota State.
 
The Bison held on closely early in the first match, but the Gophers wore them down soon after, with 8-, 10-, and 13-point set victories. 
 
Santana again was an offensive weapon, leading the team with 14 kills in the match. 
 
“Daly was great this weekend; she did a wonderful job,” head coach Hugh McCutcheon said. “Her leadership was exemplified by her ability to make big plays. She was a rock for us.”
 
Junior Paige Tapp helped with blocking, with five assisted blocks and one solo.
 
In the final match, Minnesota faced the University of Central Florida.  Early on, it appeared the Golden Knights weren’t going to make it easy.
 
The Gophers trailed in the first set before taking a 17-16 lead they held through the end. 
 
The second set also remained close until the 15th point, but by the third set UCF was facing a double-digit deficit and couldn’t come back. 
 
Santana had the team high in kills for the match with 12. Lohman and sophomore Alyssa Goehner were close behind with 8 each.
 
Paige Tapp was again successful blocking, leading the team with two solo blocks and three assisted.
 
In serving, the team had seven aces in the match. Santana and sophomore Dalianliz Rosado had two each, while Lohman, Seliger-Swenson and junior Katie Schau had one.
 
“There’s always room for improvement,” McCutcheon said. “But our ability to control things from the service line really allowed our block and defense to open things up.”
 
The sweep gave the Gophers the Diet Coke Classic title, and the team has now won 13 sets in a row.
 
“We were able to be patient, making rallies longer,” Santana said. “We knew when to take that big swing; we knew when to go hard at it, and I think that was the difference for us.”