The 11th-ranked Minnesota volleyball team (6-1) handed No. 4 California (5-1) its first loss of the season, as the Golden Gophers won in three sets by scores of 25-21, 25-20, 25-23 in its home opener on Friday, Sept. 12.
Minnesota’s victory over the fourth-ranked Golden Bears matched its highest ranked win in school history. The Golden Gophers previous wins over fourth-ranked teams came against Pepperdine (Dec. 12, 2003), Florida (Sept. 11, 2004) and Penn State (Oct. 2, 2004).
As a team, the Golden Gophers outhit California .191 to .124 on the night. Minnesota also outblocked California 12.0-to-4.0 on the night. For the second time this year, the Golden Gophers did not give up service ace. Minnesota also had three service aces on the night.
“This was a match we have been waiting for the last year to play,” said Minnesota Head Coach Mike Hebert. “This is a good California team who beat us handily at their place last year. The players on our team from last year really wanted to make sure they played well against Cal and gave their best effort at home against them this year. I thought we had a great effort in a lot of different areas tonight. We served and passed well, and that advantage helped us beat a very good California team here tonight.”
On the night, Minnesota was led by sophomore middle blocker Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minn.) who hit .450 (11-2-20) with 11 kills and a match-high eight blocks. Senior Kelly Schmidt (Champaign, Ill.) hit .308 (6-2-13) with six kills and four blocks. Brook Dieter (Bloomington, Minn.) also had seven kills and three blocks.
Senior Kyla Roehrig (Papillion, Neb.) finished with five kills and four blocks. In the third set, Roehrig became the 19th Golden Gopher in school history to record 1,000 career kills.
Rachel Hartmann (St. Charles, Ill.) finished with 29 assists, 10 digs and three kills on the night, while Christine Tan (Safety Harbor, Fla.) had 11 digs and two assists. Jessica Granquist (Blaine, Minn.) and Hailey Cowles (Eden Prairie, Minn.) finished with nine and eight digs respectively. Pam Luiz (Limeira, Brazil) also had five kills and a match-high two service aces for Minnesota.
California ran out to a 10-8 lead in the first set, but the Golden Gophers bounced back with consecutive points and tied it at 10 on a service ace by Luiz. The Golden Bears took the lead back at 12-11, but Dieter had a kill and then combined on a block with Schmidt to give Minnesota its first lead of the set at 13-12.
The Golden Bears took the lead back at 14-13, but Minnesota answered with consecutive points and took the lead on a kill by Gibbemeyer to make it 15-14. California scored the next three points to take a 17-15 lead, but Luiz and Roehrig answered with back-to-back kills tie at 17. Minnesota took the lead back on a net violation by the Golden Bears, and scored the next point to take a 19-17 lead.
After California answered with a point, Schmidt delivered a kill to make it 20-18. The Golden Bears cut the lead to 20-19, but Roehrig followed with a kill to make it 21-19. Minnesota scored the next point to make it 22-19. California answered with consecutive points to cut the lead back to one point at 22-21. The Golden Gophers moved ahead 23-21 with a kill by Gibbemeyer, and scored again to make it set point. Cowles followed with a service ace to give Minnesota the first set.
Minnesota outhit California .167 to .125 in the set, while the Golden Bears had 13 kills to 12 for the Gophers. In the set, Minnesota also had two service aces to none for California. Roehrig and Luiz each had three kills apiece, while Hartmann and Tan finished with five digs in the set.
The Golden Gophers jumped out to a 6-4 lead in the second set, but California came right back with consecutive points it at six. Minnesota responded with consecutive solo blocks from Dieter and Roehrig to take back the two-point lead. The Golden Bears tied the set at eight with the next two points, and the teams exchanged the next four points to move to a tie at 10.
Gibbemeyer delivered a kill, and the Golden Gophers rattled off the next two points to take a 13-10 lead. California scored the three of the next four points to make it a one-point lead at 14-13. Schmidt halted the Golden Bears momentum with a kill to make it 15-13. With the score at 16-14, California scored to make it a one-point lead at 16-15.
Roehrig and Schmidt combined on a block, and the Golden Gophers scored the next point to move it out to three points at 18-15. California answered with three of the next four points to take a 19-18 lead. After a Golden Bear net violation, Dieter followed with a kill and then combined on a block to make it 22-18. California answered with consecutive points to make it 22-20, but Dieter answered with a kill. Minnesota moved it to set point at 24-20, and took a 2-0 lead in the match on a kill by Schmidt.
Minnesota outhit California .233 to .116 in the second set, and outblocked the Golden Bears 5.0-to-0.0 in the set. Gibbemeyer had five kills and two blocks in the set, while Schmidt had three blocks and a pair of kills.
The Golden Gophers jumped out to a 5-2 lead in the third set, but California answered with a 5-0 run to take a 7-5 lead. The Golden Bears expanded the lead to 10-7, but Minnesota scored four of the next five points and tied it at 11 on a kill by Luiz. The Golden Gophers expanded it to a 7-1 run, and took a 14-11 lead on a solo block by Gibbemeyer.
California scored four of the next six points to cut the lead to 16-15. Dieter answered with a kill to make it 17-15, but the Golden Bears scored consecutive points to tie it at 17. With the score tied at 18, Schmidt delivered a kill and Gibbemeyer and Roehrig combined on a block to make it 20-18. California answered with consecutive points to tie it at 20.
The two teams were tied at 21, when Gibbemeyer delivered a kill and followed with a solo block to make it 23-21. The Golden Bears cut it to 23-22, but Gibbemeyer and Hartmann combined on a block to make it match point at 24-22. With the score at 24-23, Dieter finished the match with a kill to give Minnesota the three set victory.
California was led by Hana Cutura who had 14 kills and 12 digs. Am’ra Solomon also had 10 kills for the Golden Bears. Kristen Kathan finished with a match-high 16 digs for California. The Golden Bears did finish with 42 kills to Minnesota’s 37 on the night.
Minnesota will be back in action on Saturday, Sept. 13 when it faces No . 16 Cal Poly at 7:30 p.m. In the early match, Notre Dame will face No. 4 California at 5 p.m. On Sunday, Sept. 14, Cal Poly will face California in the early match at 12 p.m. Minnesota will wrap up the tournament against Notre Dame at 2:30 p.m. That match will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network.