Minnesota Prepares for National Semifinals Minnesota participated in the first day of events at the National Semifinals in Tampa, Fla. on Wednesday, Dec. 16.
Minnesota completed its second and final practice before tonight's match. The Golden Gophers went through their serve and pass, and following practice took a team picture by the National Semifinals logo.
Also a quick suggestion for several good stories to read or listen to heading into the National Semifinals tonight. The Tampa Tribune did a nice story on Christine Tan's return to her home area to play in the National Semifinals. Minnesota Public Radio also did a nice piece on the Golden Gophers before they left and the Star Tribune did piece Mike Hebert's return to the National Semifinals.
Last night, Minnesota took park in the National Semifinals banquet. The banquet was on a cruise ship, and it lasted for about two and half hours. Highlights included speeches from several key personnel associate with the organizing committee and the NCAA Tournament committee and the coaches of the four teams.
One of the interesting storylines that has come from this tournament is the amount of experience the coaches of these teams possess. Minnesota's Mike Hebert. Penn State's Russ Rose and Hawai'i head coach Dave Shoji have all been coaching sport of volleyball for 30-plus years. Hebert and Shoji know each other from their time going to college at UC Santa Barbara.
The NCAA also announced the Elite-88 award, which is in its first season. This award goes to the athlete with highest GPA at the championship of each of the NCAA's 88 sports championships. Although the Golden Gophers did not have a player win it, sophomore defensive specialist Jessica Granqust received the honor of being one of four nominees.
Minnesota takes the court at the St. Pete Times Forum tonight at 6 p.m. (CT). That match will be on ESPN 2 live, and can be heard on WLOL (1330 AM) radio and in the Gold Zone. NCAA rules prohibit a live blog updating continous information, but gophersports.com will take any question and blog about the sights and surroundings of the National Semifinals.
The Minnesota volleyball team participated in the first day of events at the National Semifinals in Tampa, Fla. on Wednesday, Dec. 16.
Minnesota arrived at the arena took care of several responsibilities with ESPN 2 who will be broadcasting all three matches live. The Golden Gophers had their open practice from 11:35 a.m. to 1:05 p.m. Following practice, the Golden Gophers finished their lunch and went back to the hotel
Junior middle blocker Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minn.) and senior Christine Tan (Safety Harbor, Fla.) accompanied Head Coach Mike Hebert as part of the pre-tournament press conference. Prior to the press conference, several local reporters caught up to Christine Tan and talked to her about experience of returning to back home to play in the National Semifinals in her senior season.
Mike Hebert also talked in the press conference and did an interview regarding Dave Shoji, and their friendship which dates back to their days on the campus at UC-Santa Barbara.
After getting back from the pre-tournament activities most of the team either took or studied for final exams. The team will take part in a pre-tournament banquet cruise from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. It will be the Gophers' second time on the cruise. They went on a similar cruise on Sept. 10 prior to the Tampa Twice Tournament with Florida, South Florida and Washington. Minnesota was the only team to make it back from that non-conference tournament field.
It was also announced today that junior middle blocker Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minn.) was named a First-Team All-American. Senior setter Taylor Carico also claimed Third-Team All-America honors. Check gophersports.com for a more detailed article on that subject.