The 10th-ranked Minnesota volleyball program (27-7) saw its season come to an end at the hands of Iowa State (21-12), as the Golden Gophers dropped a four-set match by scores of 25-14, 26-24, 25-27, 25-19 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at the Sports Pavilion on Saturday, Dec. 6.
With the loss, Minnesota finished the 2008 season at 27-7. The 27 wins were the most by a Golden Gopher squad since 2004. Iowa State moves to 21-12, and advances to a second straight NCAA Regional.
Minnesota’s loss was its first ever at the Sports Pavilion in 11 NCAA Tournament matches, and the second in the program’s 14 home matches in NCAA Tournament play.
“I thought Iowa State played a great match tonight,” said Minnesota Head Coach Mike Hebert. “They served extremely tough, and put a lot of pressure on us tonight. They are very good team. We started off slow tonight in the first set, but I thought we competed well in the second and third sets. If we were able to win that second set, we might be sitting her talking about a different match. However, all the credit needs to go to Iowa State. They are a very good team, who played extremely well tonight.”
Iowa State outhit Minnesota .288 to .207, and had 71 kills to 55 for the Golden Gophers. The Cyclones also outblocked Minnesota 10.0-to-6.0, and had 88 digs to 76 for the Golden Gophers.
Minnesota was led by senior Katie Vatterrodt (Bloomington, Minn.) who had a season-high 13 kills, hit .321 (13-4-28) and six digs in her final career match. Senior Kelly Schmidt (Champaign, Ill.) also hit .562 (10-1-16) with 10 kills in her final career match. Kyla Roehrig (Papillion, Neb.) had eight kills and two blocks in her final match, while senior Rachel Hartmann (St. Charles, Ill.) had 44 assists, six digs and a service ace in her career finale.
Hartmann finished her career at Minnesota fifth on career assists list with 4.925. Roehrig also finished fourth on the career solo block list with 125.
“They did a good job tonight of serving aggressively and taking us out of our system,” said Vatterrodt. “That aggressive serving made it hard to get good passes to Rachel (Hartmann), which made it tougher to stay in system offensively tonight.”
Sophomore Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minn.) had 13 kills and five blocks on the night, while Christine Tan (Safety Harbor, Fla.) finished with 19 digs and an assist. Hailey Cowles (Eden Prairie, Minn.) had nine kills and 13 in the match, while Jessica Granquist (Blaine, Minn.) finished with 15 digs and two assists.
Gibbemeyer finished the season second on the single-season blocks list 174 blocks on the season. She also collected a team-high 405 kills. Tan also joined Paula Gentil as the only other player in school history to record 600 digs in a season, as she recorded 611 on the season.
“I thought Iowa State did a good job of playing extremely scrappy tonight,” said Tan. “They kept the ball up, and were making some nice defensive plays to keep some points alive. We had some chances tonight to get back into the match, but give Iowa State credit for playing well tonight and coming away with the win.”
Iowa State jumped out to a 9-3 lead in the first set, before the Golden Gophers scored four of the next six points to cut it to 11-7 after a Vatterrodt kill. The Cyclones ripped off seven of the next nine points to take an 18-11 lead. From that point, Iowa State pushed it out to set point at 24-13. Minnesota fought off the first set point, but Rachel Hockaday delivered a kill to give the Cyclones the first set 25-14.
The Cyclones outhit Minnesota .472 to .226 in first set, and had 19 kills to 11 for the Golden Gophers. Vatterrodt led Minnesota with four kills in five swings.
Minnesota fell behind 14-9 in the second set, but the Golden Gophers cut it to 15-12 after a kill by Gibbemeyer. Iowa State pushed its lead out to 20-14 with five of the next seven points. The Cyclones maintained a four-point edge at 23-19. However, Minnesota ripped off five straight points to move to set point at 24-23.
After an Iowa State service error and attack error, Vatterrodt delivered a kill. The Cyclones committed another attack error to tie the set at 23. Gibbemeyer delivered a kill to make it set point at 24-23. Iowa State fought off the set point on an attack error by Minnesota, and moved it set point on second straight Golden Gopher attack error. Victoria Henson delivered a kill to give Iowa State a 26-24 second-set victory, and a 2-0 lead in the match.
Iowa State outhit Minnesota .260 to .200 in the second set, and had 17 kills to 15 for the Golden Gophers. Schmidt led the way for the Golden Gophers with four kills in as many swings.
The Cyclones raced out to an 11-7 lead in the third set, but the Golden Gophers answered with three straight points and cut the lead to 11-10 on a kill by Vatterrodt. Iowa State pushed its lead out to 16-13, but Cowles answered with a kill and Gibbemeyer combined on a block with Roehrig to make it 16-15.
Minnesota fell behind 18-16, before Iowa State committed a service error and Schmidt delivered a kill to tie the set at 18. The teams exchanged the next four points, and the score remained tied at 20 after a kill by Vatterrodt. The Cyclones scored the next three points to move ahead 23-20, but Vatterrodt and Gibbemeyer answered with consecutive kills to make it 23-22.
Jen Malcom gave Iowa State match point at 24-22, but Gibbemeyer answered with three straight kills to turn around the momentum and give Minnesota set point at 25-24. The Cyclones fought off the first set point, but Roehrig delivered a kill to make it 26-25. The Golden Gophers claimed the set on an attack error by Iowa State to cut the match to a 2-1 score.
Minnesota outhit Iowa State .226 to .180, and each team had 18 kills on the night. Gibbemeyer led the Golden Gophers with six kills in the third set.
Iowa State immediately grabbed the momentum with a 6-0 run to start the fourth set. Minnesota responded with seven of the next 10 points, and cut the led to 9-7 on a kill by Cowles. The Cyclones scored the next three points to move ahead 12-7. Minnesota answered with four of the next five points and cut the lead to 13-11 on a kill by Schmidt. Iowa State pushed its lead out to a five points at 19-14. Minnesota cut it to 19-15 on a block by Gibbemeyer, but would get no closer in the as Iowa State claimed a four-set victory by winning 25-19 in the fourth set.
“I thought we played very well tonight,” said Iowa State Head coach Christy Johnson. “We try to take the court with a confident attitude whether we are up by 10 points or down by 10 points. It is amazing to be able to get this point with three freshmen on the floor in a match like this, but is a testament to how hard this group has worked to be playing at this level in the right part of the season.
Iowa State was led by Henson who had 25 kills and 10 digs, while Hockaday had 16 kills and 17 digs. Debbie Stadick hit .409 with 11 kills and seven blocks, while Kelsey Peterson had 10 kills and five blocks.