The Minnesota volleyball team had an intrasqaud scrimmage that lasted three games on Sunday, Aug. 20 at the Sports Pavilion. Minnesota mixed up it's lineup shuffling players back and forth on both teams during the scrimmage.
One of the things that really stuck out during the scrimmage was the amount of depth that this year's Golden Gopher team has. With six sophomores having gained experience as freshman last year the coaching staff was able to tinker around with the lineups and try different things throughout the scrimmage, yet still maintain a good competitive match the whole time. Heading into the season (and even last year) the coaching staff talked about how much depth the six sophomores would give the team when they got experience. Now that they have that experience, the depth of the team really plays out in a scrimmage setting.
As a team, the Golden Gophers served well during the scrimmage. At times, they were very aggressive which led to few service errors. However, the aggressive serving produced a lot of well placed serves that put pressure on the serve receive game.
One of the things the coaching staff has also been happy with during this fall practice is the defensive intensity and effort from the the team. There were several long exciting rallies during the scrimmage in which both squads made strong defensive plays before one team finally scored. One rally in particular in the second game, involved a couple of excellent plays by the defensive specialists on both sides to keep a long rally going, until Jessy Jones finally terminated an over pass for a kill to end the point.
Another aspect of having 12 letterwinners returning this year is the fact that it makes it easier to show the two newcomers what it takes to succeed in the program. The coaching staff has been satisfied with play of both true freshman Rachelle Hagerty and Christine Tan. Minnesota Head Coach Mike Hebert noted that early on in fall practice both players looked confident and ready to do what it takes to adjust to this level immediately. During the scrimmage, Tan made some great defensive plays and served well, while Hagerty made some shots to get kills for her side.
As a whole, Hebert seemed satisfied with the scrimmage and thought his team played well in most areas. However, he also noted that it is really tough to make evaluations until you start playing competition outside of the gym.
Fans can continue to get a good look at the the Golden Gophers 2006 squad when they play in the Alumni Match at the Sports Pavilion on Saturday, Aug. 26 at 7 p.m.