Dec. 13, 2013
The No. 10 University of Minnesota volleyball team fell in three sets to Stanford, tonight in the NCAA Regional Semifinal in Lexington, Ky. The loss ends the Golden Gophers' season as it finished, 29-7 overall this year.
Minnesota was led by Ashley Wittman, who had 17 kills and 43 attempts. Daly Santana had 13 kills and posted a team-high 17 digs. Tori Dixon had 12 kills hit a team-best .440 and had an ace. Katie Schau had 30 assists, while Alexandra Palmer had 13. Lindsey Lawmaster had 15 digs.
The match ended college careers for Dixon, Palmer and Wittman, who made significant contributions to the Gopher program. Wittman finished her career with 1,778 kills, while Dixon had 1,479.
First Set: Stanford took a 1-0 lead on a 28-26 first set win. As the two teams were tied at 9-9, the Cardinal went on a 4-0 run for a 13-9 lead. Minnesota, however, could eventually tie up the set at 19-19 on back-to-back kills from Wittman. Stanford would call a timeout and go up, 22-20 before Minnesota called a timeout. As the Cardinal led, 24-22, Dixon added a kill to make it a one-point deficit and Santana had an ace to tie it at 24. From there, Minnesota and Stanford would tie it up again twice before Brittany Howard connected for back-to-back kills as the Cardinal went up, 1-0 and a 28-26 set win.
Second Set: Stanford used a .364 second-set hitting clip to go up, 2-0 and win the second set, 25-23. Minnesota jumped out to a 14-11 lead on a block from Hannah Tapp and Wittman. Stanford called a timeout and would later tie up the set, 16-16 and take the lead on a Madi Bugg ace. As the Cardinal went up, 20-18, Minnesota responded and tied the set at 20 on kills from Karlie Hauer and Wittman. The two teams tied again at 22 and 23 before Stanford took a timeout. They closed out the set with a kill from Howard and a block from Carly Wopat and Bugg for a 2-0 lead.
Third Set: Minnesota hit .308 in the third set, and erased a 17-13 deficit, but couldn't overcome the Cardinal as they won, 25-22. Stanford used a 12-8 lead and increased the lead to 15-11 on a Gopher attack error. Minnesota, however, would start to close the gap after Stanford went up, 17-13. After a kill by Wittman and Tapp, the Cardinal would have a ball handling error and an attack errors to put the score at 19-17, and a block by Didxon and Nora for a 19-18 deficit. Minnesota would have a kill from Santana and a Cardinal attack error locked the score at 20-20. Minnesota got two kills from Dixon and Wittman for a 22-21 lead, but Stanford called a timeout and added three-straight for a 25-22 win.
Dec. 13, 2013
Post-Match Press Conference
Minnesota Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon
Opening statement …
“First of all congratulations to Stanford. They played very well tonight and deserved to win so we wish them all the best going forward. For us our season to be done, and it’s obviously sad. (It’s an) occupational hazard. I thought our team played at times quite well. I thought we had chances to win. Certainly in the first two sets and you could even talk me into a chance in the third there. Ultimately that inability to make one or two plays was probably the difference in the match. Closely fought match, and obviously (we are) disappointed in the result today, but very proud of the body of work our team put together this season. Strong season for us. Now obviously sad for our seniors, but (we are) looking forward to 2014.”
On Minnesota’s struggles to execute in key-situations …
“You can attribute that as much to Stanford’s play as to anyone on our team. Certainly my comment was not to imply that there’s anyone at fault here. Good team, two good teams in fact, playing good volleyball. It’s a play here and a play there, that’s the difference.”
On the outgoing seniors …
“It’s obviously sad for us to lose them. But again to my earlier comment it’s an occupational hazard. These things cycle through every four years. For me, the last two seasons working with these three has been a privilege. I’ve enjoyed their commitment to the process. The fact that they’ve tried to make change. In fact, not only have tried, but succeeded to that end is a testament to their commitment to our team and the goals that we have. We will certainly miss them. I think we’re all sad that we weren’t able to be these one or two plays better to get them into this tournament. We will send them off, and get ready for the next season.”
#13, Ashley Wittman, OH
On her match-high 17 kills …
“I was trying to get them in trouble using a bunch of different shots not trying to hit it in the same spot every time. Trying to go down the line, go cross-court, roll shots, tips, anything that would get them out of system. That’s what I was trying to work on, and it worked for a majority of the time.”
On the Minnesota’s struggles to execute in key-situations …
“We were right there with them all three sets. It was just two points. It was anything. Someone could have made a better stop, pass, dig set. Someone could have swung better. It’s still a good game, we just couldn’t execute at the times we needed to. It was only two points that could have made a difference in the game, but we just couldn’t pull it out in the end.”
On looking back on her career …
“Right now I can’t really. It doesn’t seem like it’s over because it’s just the last day. My time here has been phenomenal. We’ve been a great team, and we’ve had a good legacy. Sweet 16 three times, Elite-Eight once so I’ve had an awesome time. I’ve definitely grown as a player and a human being. One match doesn’t show my whole entire four years. There’s been ups and downs, but I’ve had a good time and it’s been a privilege to play here.”
#1, Daly Santana, OH
“Overall as a team we have ups and downs. That’s what volleyball is. Today I tried my best to play one play at a time and keep working hard. It was a good game, we just couldn’t finish at the right times. We will make sure we are ready for the next season. We will use this game as a learning experience.”
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