Gophers volleyball cruises to Elite Eight

Aleutian Calabay

The No. 11 Minnesota volleyball team continues their 2009 journey into the Elite Eight following a 3-1 win over Colorado State on Friday night by scores of 25-22, 29-27, 23-25 and 25-18.

The Gophers played an all around outstanding game, fighting out every point and finding ways to score even when the Rams’ blocking gave them some difficulty. Minnesota was lead in scoring by freshman Tabitha Love. She clearly became the Gophers’ go-to scoring option on the outside and consistently delivered, finishing the match with a career high 22 kills. The other clear leader of Minnesota was senior setter Taylor Carico, who gave Minnesota an inside scoring option, finishing with 13 kills on top of setting up the offense with 47 assists.

"Resiliancy is something that every team strives for," Minnesota head coach Mike Hebert said. "This team has welded itself together throughout the season in a way that not all teams do. They’ve discovered that if you have trust and believe in one another then good things can happen."

The Gophers got started on the right foot in the first set, taking an early 12-7 lead.  Colorado State pushed the score close a couple times late in the set, but with the score 23-22, Minnesota would win the next two points, finishing with a combination block by Gibbemeyer and Carico to take the set.

The second set turned out to be one of the finest Minnesota would play all season. The lead bounced back and fourth early on, until the Rams began taking control, hustling down point after point as they took a commanding 16-10 lead. The Gophers were not about to let the set fall away easily, as they bounced back to tie the set at 18. Each team took their turn holding the lead after that even after the score for each team had reached 25.  Minnesota fought off a pair of Colorado State set points before charging back. A kill by Gibbemeyer, a block by Filho and a smashing kill by Love gave Minnesota the dramatic win.

Colorado State jumped out to an early 4-0 lead in the third set.  Minnesota came right back, going on to take a 13-11 lead, but the Rams quickly mounted a comback effort of their own, winning seven of eight points to take a 18-14 lead.  Despite a solid late run by the Gophers, they would come up just short as Colorado State stayed alive in the match.

The fourth set once again saw the lead continue to go back and fourth as both teams continued to battle. But Minnesota began to take control midway through the set, winning 11 of 14 points as they cruised to the match victory.

Minnesota now faces Florida State in the Elite Eight round of the tournament.  The match begins at 5:30 at the Sports Pavilion.