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Minnesota Volleyball: Sweet Sixteen Preview

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After escaping past Creighton a rematch with Florida awaits the Gophers in the Sweet Sixteen. Minnesota swept them in week two before the injury bug struck.

Jon Johnston

Like last season, Minnesota is facing a regular season opponent in the Sweet Sixteen. Unlike last season, Minnesota beat Florida during the regular season.

Minnesota and Florida will play the second match of Texas Regional in Austin at 5:30 CT on ESPN3.

Texas and Louisville will play at 3:00 CT on ESPNU. The Longhorns were actually pushed to a fifth set by UC Santa Barbara after they had swept Albany in the first round. Louisville also was on the winning side of a five-set match as they upset #15 Western Kentucky giving them their only two losses of their season; in the first round, the Cardinals swept Samford.

The winners will play Saturday at 7:00 CT on ESPNU.

Rest of the Field

Baylor Region

# 1 Baylor vs #16 Purdue - 11:00 AM CT - ESPNU

All seeded teams advanced to Waco. Baylor breezed through the first two rounds sweeping Sacred Heart and USC. The Boilers dropped a set to Marquette in the second round after having swept Wright State.

#8 Washington vs #9 Kentucky - 1:30 PM CT - ESPN3

The Wildcats swept Southeast Missouri State and Michigan last weekend while the Huskies swept Winthrop and South Carolina.

Stanford Regional

#3 Stanford vs Utah - 10:00 PM CT - ESPNU

The Utes beat Illinois in five sets then swept #14 BYU winning each set by 10 to advance. Meanwhile, the Cardinal swept Denver and Cal Poly.

#11 Penn State vs Cincinnati - 7:00 PM CT - ESPN3

The Jordan Thompson led Bearcats bested VCU in four sets then beat the hometown Final Four hopeful #6 Pitt Panthers in five to make the Sweet 16. Penn State swept Princeton then dropped a set to Towson in round two.

Wisconsin Regional

#4 Wisconsin vs #13 Texas A&M - 1:00 PM CT - ESPNU

All four seeded teams made it to Madison in the Badger’s region. Wisconsin swept Illinois State and UCLA to advance. A&M swept St. John’s then beat Rice in four sets to make the Sweet 16.

#5 Nebraska vs #12 Hawaii - 3:30 PM CT - ESPN3

The Huskers swept Ball State then dropped a set to Mizzou before moving on. Hawaii also dropped a set although it was in the first round as they beat Northern Colorado and San Diego.

Match Preview

The Gopher offense has to get on track this weekend. If they can’t score and give away points this season may end in the same round as last season. It starts with Stephanie Samedy. She is Minnesota’s best hitter but she hasn’t played like it in a long time. She struggled in the 6-2 system and hasn’t quite busted out of that funk even though she’s back to playing six rotations. Minnesota can’t back to the Final Four with sub .200 hitting efforts and two kills a set from her.

Key Players

class, height, position, # name, stats (statistical rank nationally)
Positions: MB- middle blocker, OH- outside hitter, RS- right side hitter, DS- defensive specialist, L- libero, S- setter
Stats: K/S- kills/set, B/S- blocks/set, D/S- digs/set. .000- hitting percentage, A/S- assists/set SA/S- service aces/set

So. 5’9 L 7 CC McGraw*- 4.13 D/S, 0.25 SA/S

Jr.. 6’2 RS 10 Stephanie Samedy*- 3.12 K/S, .238, 2.61 D/S, 0.94 B/S

Sr. 6’0 MB 12 Taylor Morgan!- .348, 1.23 B/S

Sr. 5’11 S 15 Kylie Miller- 10.26 A/S, 2.42 D/S, 0.3 SA/S

Sr. 6’0 OH 19 Alexis Hart!- 3.01 K/S, .266

So. 6’0 OH 20 Adanna Rollins- 2.67 K/S, .225, 2.95 D/S

Jr. 6’5 MB 21 Regan Pittman*- 2.21 K/S, .355, 1.42 B/S (13)

*First Team All-Big Ten

!Second Team All-Big Ten

Minnesota Team Stats

Team Kills/Set Hitting Percentage Assists/Set Service Aces/Set Digs/Set Blocks/Set
Team Kills/Set Hitting Percentage Assists/Set Service Aces/Set Digs/Set Blocks/Set
Minnesota 13.83 .263 12.87 1.15 16.26 2.85 (8)
Opponents 13.31 .176 12.57 1.26 15.67 2.05

Florida

Mary Wise’s Gators (27-4, 16-2) are making their 26th Sweet Sixteen appearance this weekend. They’ve been in the tournament 29 straight seasons under Wise and 30 total in program history. Wise has twice led her Gators to the National Championship game falling in 2003 and 2017. This season Florida was SEC Co-Champions with Kentucky. Minnesota leads the series 4-1.

The Gators have size and reliable outside hitters. Their offense isn’t particularly explosive but they’re efficient which just magnifies the impact of errors. Florida is better too at serve-pass based on the stats. If Florida can neutralize the Gopher’s middles in the passing game we may see a different result from the previous meeting.

Key Players

Sr. 6’8 MB 5 Rachael Kramer@- 2.57 K/S, .413 (8), 0.92 B/S

Jr. 6’1 OH 7 Paige Hammons@- 2.41 K/S, .251, 2.16 D/S, 0.37 SA/S

Sr. 5’6 L 14 Allie Gregory- 4.21 D/S

So. 6’3 OH 20 Thayer Hall@- 3.75 K/S, .250, 2.47 D/S, 0.31 SA/S

So. 6’0 S 21 Marlie Monserez- 10.28 A/S, 2.31 D/S

Jr. 6’7 RS/S 40 Holly Carlton- 2.36 K/S, .298

So. 6’6 MB 99 Lauren Dooley- .374, 1.06 B/S

@ All-SEC Team

Florida Team Stats

Team Kills/Set Hitting Percentage Assists/Set Service Aces/Set Digs/Set Blocks/Set
Team Kills/Set Hitting Percentage Assists/Set Service Aces/Set Digs/Set Blocks/Set
Florida 13.45 .289 (7) 12.49 1.44 14.31 2.54
Opponents 11.54 .177 10.82 1.0 12.93 1.53

Minnesota Connections- Assistant Coach Dave Boos coached at the U from 2002-06.

AVCA All-North Region Honors

To be an All-American you have to first make the All-Region team. This season four Gophers made the All-North Region team; Alexis Hart, CC McGraw, Regan Pittman, and Stephanie Samedy. Taylor Morgan received an honorable mention nod. Hugh McCutcheon was the region Coach of the Year.