The Minnesota Golden Gophers volleyball team made their 2021 NCAA Tournament debut Thursday night and looked like they plan on staying for a while. The Gophers swept Georgia Tech 25-19, 25-21, 25-18 and advanced to the Sweet 16 for the 10th time in program history.
The Gophers started the match off slowly and led the Yellow Jackets just 13-12 at one point in the first set. The Gophers calmed down and ripped off three points in a row to go up 16-12 and never led the Yellow Jackets score more than one point in a row the rest of the set. Stephanie Samedy put an emphatic close on the set to put it in the Gophers column 25-19.
The second set was similar to the first where Minnesota let Georgia Tech hang around. The Yellow Jackets led at one point 13-11 before Minnesota would score five of the next six points to regain control of the set.
Taylor Landfair finished off the set with a kill and the Gophers went up 2-0.
Once again the third set was nearly a carbon copy. Georgia Tech stuck around and took a 17-15 lead before Minnesota decided to play and then went on a tear. The Gophers would win the last six points of the match taking it from 19-18 to a 25-18 win and the 3-0 sweep.
The Gophers were led by Samedy and Adana Rollins with 13 kills each. Melani Shafmaster had a great game as she recorded a double-double with 32 assists and a team high 16 digs. Mariana Brambilla led the way for the Yellow Jackets with 16 kills.
Minnesota was still without Libero CC McGraw who did not dress for the match. She has missed the last month of the season with a knee injury and her status for the rest of the NCAA Tournament has to be doubtful at the moment.
Minnesota will now face either #14 Utah or Pittsburgh in the Sweet 16 on Sunday. The game time is still TBD, but the match will apparently air on ESPNU.