Minnesota Tops Kansas State in Runza/AVCA Showcase
Omaha, Neb. - The 11th-ranked Minnesota volleyball team started strong and finished with a flurry in pulling out a season opening five-set victory over No. 22 Kansas State (25-19, 25-16, 29-31, 24-26, 15-11) in the first match of the Runza/AVCA Showcase Friday night at Qwest Center Omaha.
The Gophers cruised to victories in the first two sets before Kansas State fought back to post two-point victories in sets three and four. In the fifth set, Kansas State was positioned to pull of the upset leading 7-4 before the Gophers rallied by scoring 10 of the next 11 points.
In the match, Minnesota out-hit K-State .294 to .168, while totaling 10 more kills. The blocks were even at 10 apiece, while the Gophers enjoyed an 87-77 lead in digs. Strong serving kept the Wildcats in the match, as K-State recorded 10 aces to only one for Minnesota.
For Minnesota, Brook Dieter led a contingent of three Gophers with double figure kills, finishing with 18 kills and 12 digs. Lauren Gibbemeyer added 17 kills, while Ariana Filho put down 11 kills on only 22 swings. JuliAnne Chisholm led all players with 19 kills for Kansas State, while Kathleen Ludwig added 18 kills on .267 hitting and added five service aces.
The Gophers took the opening set, posting a 25-19 victory. Gibbemeyer paced Minnesota with four kills on eight swings, while three other players had three kills apiece. Minnesota took charge of the set early on, using a 6-2 spurt to overcome a three-point deficit and take an 10-8 lead on a Filho kill. With the score tied at 12, Dieter and Gibbemeyer combined for five of UM's eight points in a 9-2 spurt to push the margin to 21-14 after a Tabitha Love kill. Kansas State made one last spurt, pulling to within four points on two occasions, the last being at 23-19 on a Kelsey Chipman kill, but kills by Hailey Cowles and Gibbemeyer closed out the opening set.
The Gophers finished the second set with a flourish, using a game-ending 10-1 run to post a 25-16 victory and take a 2-0 lead into the locker room. The Gophers turned up the defense, recording five blocks after not having one in the first set, and held the Wildcats to -.030 hitting. Gibbemeyer and Taylor Carico had three blocks apiece in the set, while Dieter had four kills on eight swings and keyed a decisive serving run. With the score tied at 15, Dieter's kill gave the Gophers the lead for good before she ran off four straight points at the service line to make it 20-15 after a Carico kill. Chisholm's kill ended the run, but kills by Dieter and Love sparked a set-ending run.
The third set featured an offensive show by both teams, as Minnesota and K-State combined to fight off six set points before the Wildcats prevailed 31-29. Minnesota hit .450 in the set, but was outdone by a Kansas State team that hit .381 and had three service errors. Kathleen Ludwig totaled seven kills on .462 hitting, two aces and a block to help Kansas State pull to within 2-1. The set featured 18 ties as the largest lead of the set by either team was four points. With the score tied at 14, Kansas State won five of the next six rallies to forge a 19-15 lead after a Ludwig kill. The Wildcats built a 21-17 advantage, only to see Minnesota run off four straight points to tie the score at 21 on a Filho kill. The Wildcats then won three of the next four rallies and had the first of their five set points, but could not capitalize. The Gophers had two chances to complete the sweep, the last at 29-28, but Ludwig took over, combining with Kelsey Chipman on a block before Chipman's kill made it 30-29. Ludwig then capped the set with her second ace of the set to make it 2-1.
The fourth set was tight throughout. After Minnesota built a 14-11 lead on the strength of a 6-2 run, Kansas State came back to tie the set at 16. The teams then traded side outs from there before the Gophers ran off three straight points to take a 23-20 lead. Following a Minnesota serving error, back-to-back kills from Chisholm pulled the Wildcats even again at 23 and forced a Gopher timeout. Kansas State completed the comeback and took the fourth set, 26-24, on a Soriana Pacheco ace.
Riding the momentum of a strong finish to set four, Kansas State jumped out to a 7-4 lead in the fifth set before Minnesota scored 10 of the next 11 points. A 6-0 run gave the Gophers their first lead at 8-7. Chisholm snapped the Gopher run with a kill to make it 10-8, but Gibbemeyer answered back with a kill of her own before teaming with Carico for a block that put the Gophers three points away from the win at 12-8. Down 14-8, the Wildcats survived three match points to force a Minnesota time out. Following the break, Gibbemeyer sealed the victory with a kill.
Both teams complete the Runza/AVCA Showcase on Saturday, as Kansas State takes on No. 16 Michigan at 6 p.m. CT and Minnesota faces third-ranked Nebraska at 8:30 p.m.
Kansas State Coach Suzie Fritz
"I think, ultimately, it took us too long to warm up. I was very proud of how hard we played. I thought we played pretty well through games three, four and five. The first couple of games, it just seemed like we couldn't find our rhythm. We just couldn't get enough hitters clicking at the same time. This is a team that we're going to have to be clicking on all cylinders. We need to have everybody involved and have everybody going."
On the what they talked about going into the fifth set
"We just talked about we felt like we were finally finding our rhythm. We ultimately needed to win the serving and receiving battle. I thought our serving really upgraded as the match went on. We had a couple of key misses late, but our serving really upgraded late. That was the difference in terms of us getting back in it. That and (Kathleen) Ludwig and (JuliAnne) Chisholm heated up a little bit and that helped."
Minnesota Coach Mike Hebert
On his thoughts on the match
"The end result was very important and good for us. Had we won the match in three sets, like we thought was going to happen, we would not have found out all this other stuff about our team. This match taught us a whole lot and revealed a whole lot of things we need to fix. "
On how long it will take for his team to reach their potential
"It's going to be, in my opinion, at least a month before we're starting to see it come together. But I like what I saw, don't get me wrong. "
On being down 7-4 in the fifth set and coming back
"That was the moment when we decided that we could push back with a little more gusto. Without that push back, we lose the match."
On trying different schemes tonight
"We did a lot of different things tonight with blocking and offense. Some of it worked, obviously some of it didn't."
courtesy Nebraska athletics