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Gophers volleyball advances to Sweet 16 in NCAA tournament

Minnesota defeated Southeastern Louisiana and Northern Iowa to advance to the regional round of the NCAA volleyball tournament.
Image by Ethan Fine
Middle blocker Carter Booth celebrates a point during the Gophers’ game against Wisconsin, Sept. 25.

Dec. 2 vs. Southeastern Louisiana

Minnesota’s first round matchup with Southeastern Louisiana marked its 27th appearance in the NCAA volleyball tournament. The SE Louisiana Lady Lions entered the tournament for the first time.

The matchup started with both teams splitting the first six points. The Lions finally took a lead at 5-3, but an ace from Melani Shaffmaster and a Mckenna Wucherer kill put Minnesota up 10-6. The Lions were able to cut their deficit to three at 15-12, but the Gophers scored three of the next four to go up 18-13.

It was quite clear the Lady Lions were not giving up as they managed to cut their deficit to 22-20. Kills from Carter Booth and Shaffmaster helped to bring the Gophers to set point, and an attack error from SE Louisiana clinched the set for the Gophers 25-21

Set two had the Gophers coming out with their eyes on the prize, scoring five of the first six points. The Gophers began to throw points down and gained an 18-12 lead.Once again though, the Lady Lions weren’t finished as they cut their deficit to 21-17. The Gophers, however, were still in control and used that momentum to win the set 25-18.

Much like set two, the Gophers came right out of the gates with business to attend to as they scored seven of the first eight points in the third set. SE Louisiana cut the Gophers’ lead to 9-6 just before Minnesota exploded and went on a 7-2 point run to take a 16-8 lead. Wucherer closed out the set for the Gophers 25-14 with her ninth kill of the night, leading her team to the next round.

Dec. 3 vs. Northern Iowa

After advancing to the second round, the Gophers were matched up with Northern Iowa. The match opened with Taylor Landfair landing two pivotal kills and an ace from Elise McGhie. The Panthers responded by scoring six of the next seven points to take a 7-4 lead.

Northern Iowa was up 15-13 at the media timeout, but the Gophers would tally four of the next five points to bring the score to 17-16. At this point, the Gophers would not give up the lead, winning the set 25-18.

Minnesota came out strong in set two, scoring six of the first seven points. Five more points from Minnesota gave it a commanding 11-3 lead. Northern Iowa would get no closer the rest of the set as two blocks from Jenna Wenaas sealed it for the Gophers 25-16.

The Gophers threw down six of the first eight points to open the third, bringing their lead to 13-5. Minnesota was firing on all cylinders throughout the set as a 4-0 run brought the score to 17-6. The Gophers went on to win set three 25-15 after kills from Landfair and Shaffmaster sealed the deal.

Minnesota is now 28-9 in NCAA tournament play under head coach Hugh McCutcheon. The Gophers will advance to the Sweet 16 for the 20th time in program history.

The No. 2 seeded Gophers are set to play No. 3 seeded Ohio State on Thursday at 11:00 a.m. Minnesota has played Ohio State twice this season and currently holds a 1-1 record.

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  • Incogistence
    Dec 10, 2022 at 4:17 pm

    Same reaction Σ( ° △ °)