Minnesota Falls to Texas in National Semifinals Minnesota lost in three sets to No. 2 Texas by scores of 25-19, 25-20, 25-15 in the National Semifinals.
The Minnesota volleyball team lost in three sets to No. 2 Texas by scores of 25-19, 25-20, 25-15 in the National Semifinals at the St. Pete Times Forum on Thursday, Dec. 17. With the loss, the Golden Gophers finished the season with a 28-9 overall record.
"In order for us to competitive against Texas, we had to be able to pass off the serve a little better than we did," said Minnesota Head Coach Mike Hebert. "We had to serve a little bit tougher and we had to play a little bit better defense. I thought we were often competent in all three of those areas, but there were just too many moments that we just didn't do it well enough. They have athletes to take advantage of any mistake. I am awfully proud of our team; it's been a wonderful season for us. It's a shame it had to end on a 3-0 note to Texas, but they are an awfully good volleyball team."
Minnesota was led by junior Hailey Cowles (Eden Prairie, Minn.) who had 12 kills, hit .348 (12-4-23) had six digs, two service aces and two assists. Junior Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minn.) finished with eight kills and two digs, while freshman Tabitha Love (Dauphin, Manitoba) had six kills and two blocks. Gibbemeyer finished her season with a school-record in blocks (181) and block assists (161).
"I couldn't be any prouder of my teammates for coming all this way," said Gibbemeyer. "It was an experience of a lifetime and we are so grateful to be here. It is too bad we didn't make it further, but overall I couldn't be happier with the way our season went."
Senior libero Christine Tan (Safety Harbor, Fla.) had 11 digs and a service ace in her final career match for Minnesota. Tan finishes her career second on the Golden Gophers' all-time list with 1,927 digs. Taylor Carico had 30 assists, seven digs and two blocks on the match. Carico finished her career with 5,308 assists.
"I talked to my teammates in the locker room," said Tan. "At the beginning of the season I was not sure we could get here. We had a lot of tough times and pulled together in an amazing way. We couldn't have asked more, this team will be so talented next year. You never want to lose your last match, but only one team gets to be the winner at the end. Texas is a very good team and I am proud of my teammates."
Texas outhit Minnesota .400 to .160 in the match, and had 50 kills to 33 for the Golden Gophers. Minnesota was narrowly outdug by a total of 36 to 34, and had three service aces to two for Texas. The Longhorns outblocked the Golden Gophers 5.0-to-2.0.
This season, Minnesota made its first National Semifinal since 2004 and became one of only six teams to play in three or more since 2003. The Golden Gophers 28 wins were also the highest win total since 2004 when they advanced to the National Championship match.
Minnesota fell behind 5-2 in the first set, before scoring four of the next five points to tie the set at six. The Golden Gophers took the lead at 8-7 on a solo block by Love. Minnesota held a 12-11 lead after a Gibbemeyer kill, but Texas scored three straight points, and took a 14-12 lead on a kill by Destinee Hooker.
Gibbemeyer answered back with a kill, but the Golden Gophers committed an attack error to make it 15-13. After the Gophers cut the lead to 15-14, the Longhorns ran off three straight points and made it 18-14 on a block by Ashley Engle. Filho and Love answered with a back-to-back kills to make it 18-16. Rachael Adams and Hooker answered with consecutive kills to make it 20-16.
Love followed with a kill, but Texas ran off three straight points to open up a six-point lead at 23-17. After Cowles delivered a kill and the Longhorns committed an attack error to make it 23-19, Texas closed out the set on a Minnesota service error and Juliann Faucette kill.
Texas outhit Minnesota .419 to .219, and had 17 kills to 12. Cowles led the Golden Gophers with four kills, three digs and two assists in the set.
Minnesota jumped out to a 4-2 lead in the second set on a kill by Gibbemeyer. The Golden Gophers maintained the two-point lead after a service ace by Cowles. Texas answered with a 4-0 run to take an 8-6 lead. Minnesota wrestled the lead back at 11-10 after a kill by Megan Wilson (Lincoln, Neb.).
The Golden Gophers pushed it to a two-point lead going into the media timeout at 15-13 after a kill by Gibbemeyer. Minnesota maintained that two-point lead at 17-15 when Filho and Love combined on a block, and kept it at 18-16 after a kill by Love. Texas ran off three straight points and took a 19-18 lead after Faucette and Adams combined on a block. Minnesota tied the score at 19 on an attack error by the Longhorns, but Texas answered with a 4-0 run to take a 23-19 lead.
After a kill by Katherine Harms (Albertville, Minn.) made it 23-20, Hooker and Faucette delivered consecutive kills to close out the set at 25-20.
Texas outhit Minnesota .350 to .207 in the set, and had 19 kills to 11. Cowles led the way with four kills and a service aces in the set.
The Golden Gophers jumped out to an 8-3 lead after a service ace by Cowles. Texas scored four of the next five points to cut the lead to 9-7. Minnesota pushed the lead back out to four points at 12-8 after a kill by Wilson. Texas responded by ripping off 12 of the next 13 points to take a 20-13 lead. Cowles delivered a kill to make it 22-15, but the Longhorns scored the final three points to close out the match in three sets.
"In August, when we started, I didn't think we would be here," said Hebert. "I didn't think this was a team that could make its way through the various challenges to arrive at this point. However, they proved me wrong. I was skeptical at times, but in the last three or four weeks, they managed to pull off something I did not think was going to be possible. We thought next year would be our year to make it back here. This is a little bit of a surprise to me - a pleasant surprise. What they did was impressive to me. To fend off all the criticisms and manage to survive all of that and bind themselves together at the end of the season when it really counted. That was really impressive. For me, it was a marvelous season watching young people take on challenges, fight through them and come out victorious. We didn't win the match tonight, but I consider this team a winner."
Texas was led by Hooker who had 17 kills, four digs and three blocks. Engle had 10 kills, 25 assists and four digs, while Faucette finished with 10 kills. Heather Kisner also had 21 digs for the Longhorns.