Hugh McCutcheon opened his University of Minnesota volleyball coaching career with a 3-0 win over Long Island, tonight at the Sports Pavilion. The Golden Gophers (3-0) won by scores of 25-16, 25-19, 25-16 in conjunction with the Diet Coke Classic. Albany defeated Miami in five sets earlier today.
McCutcheon joined the Gopher volleyball program Thursday for the first time since being announced as the program's head coach on Feb. 10, 2011. Completing his coaching responsibilities with USA Volleyball earlier this month, McCutcheon guided the United States women's indoor volleyball team to a silver medal at the 2012 Olympics. The London Games ended an eight-year USA head coaching stint for McCutcheon, as he also led the USA men's team to a gold medal in 2008.
Minnesota only had six attack errors in the entire match and hit .526 to LIU's .169. Katherine Harms led the way for the Gophers as she had 18 kills in 25 attempts for a .680 hitting percentage. Ashley Wittman added 14 kills in 17 chances and zero errors and hit for .824. Tori Dixon provided seven kills, two solo blocks and five block assists. Alexandra Palmer and Mia Tabberson continued to rotate in the setter position as they had 22 and 18 assists respectively.
Although LIU held an early 3-1 lead, Minnesota quickly tied up the set at 4-4 and went on to hit .440 to win the first set, 25-16. Minnesota would go on a 7-2 run to pace the middle of the first and would later jump out to a 19-11 lead. Daly Santana ended the first set with a kill as she was set up by Alexandra Palmer to go up, 1-0.
The Gophers went up 2-0 when they won the second set, 25-19. Minnesota and the Blackbirds were within two points of each other until the midway mark. A kill by Harms would put the Gophers up by four and a 20-16 cushion. Minnesota pulled away to 23-18 when Palmer added her first ace as a Golden Gopher. Wittman ended the set with her 10th kill of the night a 25-19 win.
Minnesota jumped out to its biggest lead of the evening in the third when the Gophers took a 17-10 advantage and cruised to a 25-16 set and match win. Starting the set on a 5-0 run, the Gophers have dropped one set so far in the early season. Committing just one attack error in the third set, the Gophers hit .538 to LIU's .139.
Minnesota will play Miami at 10 a.m. followed by Albany at 8 p.m. LIU and Albany play at noon, while Miami and LIU also play at 5 p.m. to conclude the Diet Coke Classic.