Gophers Win Diet Coke Classic
The 13th-ranked Minnesota volleyball team (6-1) defeated No. 12 Iowa State (5-1) in four sets by scores of 27-25, 27-25, 26-28, 25-13 on its way to winning the Diet Coke Classic with a perfect 3-0 record. It marked the eighth time in nine years that Minnesota has won the Diet Coke Classic.
Iowa State finished the tournament with a 2-1 record, while Auburn was 1-2 and George Washington was 0-3. Junior Brook Dieter (Bloomington, Minn.) was named the tournament MVP, and Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minn.) and Christine Tan (Safety Harbor, Fla.) claimed All-Tournament honors. Auburn's Liz Crouch, George Washington's Candace Silva-Martin, and Iowa State's Victoria Henson and Rachel Hockaday rounded out the All-Tournament team.
"It is always fun to play in a match like that where two teams are playing so hard to win," said Minnesota Head Coach Mike Hebert. "I thought we did a good job of winning the crucial points in the first two sets, and coming back after falling behind early. We knew coming in that we had an advantage playing at home, and we wanted to hang in until they wore down a little. That is a very tough team to wear down, but I think what we did in the fourth set, was similar to what they did to us last year in the fourth set in the NCAA Tournament. I also thought we did a great job blocking tonight, and that was one of the major keys to our victory."
Minnesota was led by Dieter who had 17 kills, 13 digs and two blocks. Freshman Tabitha Love (Dauphin, Manitoba) also had a career-high 18 kills and a career-high six blocks. Gibbemeyer had eight kills and eight blocks on the night.
Senior setter Taylor Carico (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) also had six kills, 37 assists, two blocks and two service aces. Junior Hailey Cowles (Eden Prairie, Minn.) tied a career-high with 21 digs and had three assists. Tan also had 19 digs, two assists and a kill. Senior Megan Wilson (Lincoln, Neb.) also had 16 digs, four kills, four assists and two blocks.
Minnesota outhit Iowa State .216 to .160 on the night, and had 15 blocks to six for the Cyclones. Iowa State had six service aces and 11 service errors, while Minnesota had three service aces and three service errors. Both teams finished with 90 digs.
In the first two sets, Minnesota fought off early deficits to rally to claim both 27-25. Iowa State jumped out to an 11-5 lead in the first set, and kept it at five points at 17-12. The Golden Gophers answered with kills by Love and Carico to cut the lead to three point at 17-14. Iowa State pushed its lead back to five points at 21-16 after a kill by Debbie Stadick.
Gibbemeyer and Love responded with kills, and after a Cyclone error the Golden Gophers led 21-19. Iowa State answered with consecutive points to make it 23-19. After consecutive attack errors, Love and Ariana Filho (Monument, Colo.) combined on a block to cut the lead to 23-22. Stadick again came up with a kill to make it set point at 24-22.
Love and Dieter responded with consecutive kills to fight off two set points and tied it at 24. Iowa State made it set point again at 25-24, but Love and Filho again combined on a huge block to tie it at 25. Dieter followed with a kill to make it set point, and Wilson closed it out with a kill to give Minnesota a 27-25 victory in the first set.
The Golden Gophers narrowly outhit Iowa State .240 to .220, despite the fact that Iowa State at 20 kills to 16 in the set. Minnesota did a good job minimizing its errors with only four attack errors to no service errors to go with the 16 kills.
Minnesota fell behind 9-4 in the second set, before scoring five of the next seven points and cutting it to 11-9 on a block by Gibbemeyer and Katherine Harms (St. Michael-Albertville, Minn.). Iowa State held the two-point lead at 13-11, but Filho followed with a kill and Carico delivered a solo block on a swing by Henson to tie the set at 13.
Iowa State quickly answered with eight of the next nine points to move ahead 21-14. With the score at 22-15, Minnesota ripped off five straight points to cut the lead to 22-20. After a Cyclone service error, Tan delivered a service ace and Dieter followed with a kill to force an Iowa State timeout at 22-18.
Gibbemeyer and Wilson followed by combining on a block, and Dieter delivered a kill to make it 22-20. Iowa State pushed the lead to 23-20, but Minnesota came back with consecutive points to make it 23-22. Henson made it set point at 24-22 after a kill, but Gibbemeyer followed with a kill and Iowa State was called for blocking errors for being in the net on back-to-back plays to give the Golden Gophers their first lead off the set at 25-24.
Henson followed with a kill to tie it at 25, but Love answered with a solo block and a kill to give Minnesota the second set 27-25.
The Golden Gophers outhit Iowa State .135 to .070, and had 15 kills to 13 for the Cyclones. Minnesota also collected eight blocks in the set to two for Iowa State. The Cyclones did have three service aces to one for Minnesota. Love had five kills and three blocks in the set, while Gibbemeyer collected four blocks.
In the third set, Minnesota fell behind 16-10 and mounted another comeback. Dieter and Love delivered back-to-back kills, and Gibbemeyer collected a solo block and combined with Carico to make it 16-14. Henson put Iowa State ahead 17-14, but the Golden Gophers scored five of the next six points and took a 19-18 lead on a kill by Love.
Iowa State took the lead back, and led late in the set at 23-22. Dieter delivered a kill, and then during a scramble Tan collected her first kill of the season to make it match point at 24-23. Henson fought off the match point with a kill, but committed a service error to give Minnesota its second match point at 25-24. After a kill from Hockaday, Filho delivered a kill to make it match point at 26-25. However, Iowa State scored the next three points to claim the set 28-26.
The Cyclones outhit Minnesota .286 to .250 in the set, and had 19 kills to 16 for the Golden Gophers. Dieter had seven kills in the set, while Filho collected four in seven swings.
Minnesota broke its trend of falling behind early in sets in the fourth set, when it ran out to 10-5 lead after a Carico service ace. The Golden Gophers expanded it to 16-10 on a kill by Love. Minnesota led 19-13 after a kill by Hockaday, but took over the rest of the way as it scored the final six points of the set.
The run started with a Cyclone service error and continued with three attack errors to make it 23-13. Wilson made it match point with a kill, and Love and Filho combined on a block to five Minnesota the four-set victory to avenge its home-court loss to Iowa State last year in the NCAA Tournament.
Minnesota outhit Iowa State .256 to .073 in the fourth set, and had 13 kills to 10 for the Cyclones. Love paced the Golden Gophers with five kills.
Iowa State was led by Henson who had 21 kills and 20 digs, while Hockaday had 13 kills and 12 digs. Stadick also had 11 kills in the match, while Ashley Mass finished with a match-high 25 digs. Setter Kaylee Manns had 56 assists, 11 digs and three kills.
Minnesota will be back in action on Friday, Sept. 11 when it faces No. 3 Washington at 5 p.m. (CT) at the Tampa Twice Tournament. The Golden Gophers will also face South Florida on Saturday, Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. (CT). Both matches can be heard live on the Gold Zone.