Gophers get week off from midweek match

Rachel Timmerman

After playing midweek matches for the past month, the Gophers are overdue for  some much-needed time off.

The Gophers had a break this week, and the timing is perfect for the struggling team.

“In light of the struggles that we’ve had on the road, having some time to really train and make some changes — that’s good for us right now,” head coach Hugh McCutcheon said.

The road problems have been evident — the Gophers are winless on the road in the Big Ten and have dropped to 4-8 in conference play.

Sophomore Erica Handley said the team needs to find the “will to win that we know is inside of us.” She said they were “sick of losing.”

The frustrating thing, McCutcheon said, is that the team is able to compete for periods of time and still loses.

“[We need] that push for consistent effort, consistent emotion [and] consistent execution,” McCutcheon said.

Minnesota had a chance to improve on all three components this week before leaving Thursday to compete at Michigan and Michigan State.

The consecutive weekend matches, which McCutcheon said are tough, will be the only time the Gophers will play Michigan and Michigan State.

Freshman Alyssa Goehner said she thinks the extra practices will be good for the team.

“Competing in practice is nice because we can always throw in new people and [get] a new look,” Goehner said.

Handley said she has already seen the team improve over the course of the week.

Goehner said the team has been practicing red zone games and working on finishing out sets — something the team has struggled with.

However, Goehner also said having midweek matches allows the team to learn from its mistakes and competitors.

But McCutcheon said Wednesday matches affect the team’s weekly rhythm.

“It makes it very hard to get any real work done during the week,” he said.

McCutcheon said Minnesota needs to make changes to achieve its goals in the remaining time left this season, and having a week to put those changes in place is good for the team.

“I still believe in this group,” McCutcheon said.