Postponed matches are recent problem for Gopher volleyball

After playing 10 consecutive matches without any issues, Minnesota has missed the last two weeks of play.

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Kamaan Richards

The Gophers huddle to celebrate defeating Oral Roberts three sets to none at the Maturi Pavilion on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019.

Brendan O'Brien, Sports Reporter

The last time the Gophers volleyball team took to the court, the only problem the team faced was Nebraska’s dominance as they were swept by the Cornhuskers.

But now, Minnesota’s program — and the Big Ten as a whole — is facing a larger issue: postponing matches due to health and safety concerns. After playing their first 10 matches with seemingly no issues, the Gophers have now had matches postponed in two consecutive weekends, first against Michigan and then against Ohio State.

The official reason for postponing the matches cited “health and safety concerns” in the Michigan program the first weekend, and then in Minnesota’s the following week, when the Gophers were scheduled to travel to Columbus.

Initially, head coach Hugh McCutcheon did not see the postponement of the matches against the Wolverines as a significant issue. During that bye week, Minnesota did not dwell on its first loss of the season, but did learn more about the team as a whole. It was also used as valuable time for players like outside hitter Adanna Rollins to get healthy or reset for the remainder of the season.

Postponing the Ohio State matches, however, posed more issues for the Gophers internally. While there are health and safety concerns within the program, it is unclear if any of the players have COVID-19 and if so, how many. This could affect the team’s practice time and how much longer the team might be away from competition if future matches need to be postponed.

With the talent Minnesota has on its roster, time off might not lead to rust — but only time will tell.

Playing two matches against the Buckeyes last weekend would have also played a significant role in the overall conference picture. Opening the year with a 12-0 start to the season, Ohio State has been the surprise team of the conference. If the Gophers would have won one or both of those matches, that would have helped their chances of securing a Big Ten title.

While the Gophers and other programs have said they will look to reschedule matches later in the season, it will become more challenging to reschedule postponed matches as the season progresses.

Minnesota has different opponents scheduled each weekend until the end of the regular season and the NCAA Tournament is set to begin 10 days following the conclusion of Big Ten play.

Minnesota is scheduled to host Illinois this weekend at Maturi Pavilion.