Sometimes, having too many options can be overwhelming. Samantha Seliger-Swenson might feel that way once in a while, if she’s perusing the selections at an ice cream shop or cafeteria line.
Never, though, on the volleyball court, in matches such as Saturday’s sweep of South Carolina in the second round of the NCAA tournament. All of the Gophers’ big hitters were swinging with confidence in the 25-12, 25-15, 25-15 victory at Maturi Pavilion, with five hitters registering six or more kills. That balanced offense — a hallmark of the Gophers’ season — vaulted them into next weekend’s regional semifinal against Oregon.
The second-seeded Gophers (27-3) will return to their home court Friday to face the 15th-seeded Ducks (22-10), who beat Baylor 3-2 in the second round. No. 7 seed Nebraska and No. 10 Kentucky will play in the other semifinal. The winners will meet Saturday in the regional final, also at Maturi Pavilion, with the victor advancing to the Final Four at Target Center.
Stephanie Samedy led the Gophers with 12 kills, followed by Regan Pittman (nine), Adanna Rollins (eight), Alexis Hart (seven) and Taylor Morgan (six). The Gophers outhit South Carolina .384 to .147 and racked up 46 kills to the Gamecocks’ 29.
“It makes my job a lot easier, because I have so many options to go to,’’ said Seliger-Swenson, who dished up 31 assists. “It was just very fluid. I thought we were passing really well, so that also helped, along with the hitters all doing well.’’
Seliger-Swenson played a key role, too, finding the hot hitters at the right times. Though the Gophers got just six blocks — compared to the 16 they piled up in Friday’s first-round sweep of Bryant — their overall defense was sound. They recorded 51 digs to South Carolina’s 37 and played well behind the block, with few errors in any facet of their game.
The victory moved the Gophers to 16-0 this season at home.
“It was a very good performance,’’ Gophers coach Hugh McCutcheon said. “Offensively, it was extremely clean, and there were some really nice things on the defensive end. I was very proud of the way the team came out and competed.
“It was one of the better [offensive] performances of the second half of the year. Sam did a really good job distributing, and the hitters were hitting with range and power.’’
South Carolina (20-10) struggled hitting early, with 17 kills and 11 attack errors in the first two sets. The Gamecocks also committed seven service errors. Mikayla Shields led South Carolina with eight kills, and Brittany McLean of Rosemount, who transferred from the Gophers to South Carolina after last season, finished with five kills and one block.
McLean’s first kill of the match started a three-point run that pulled the Gamecocks within 10-9 in the first set. The Gophers outscored them 15-3 the rest of the way and hit .542 to take a 1-0 lead.
The Gamecocks committed five service errors in the second set as they fell behind 16-6. They held a brief 4-3 lead in the third set, but the Gophers went on a 6-0 run and never trailed again.
“We made it a little bit too easy for them in the first set,’’ South Carolina coach Tom Mendoza said. “They’re too good when you make it easy. In the second set, we were able to get them out of system, but they were still able to get kills.’’
Friday’s regional semifinal will give the Gophers a rematch against one of only three teams to defeat them this season. They fell 3-1 to the Ducks on Sept. 7 at the Pac-12/Big Ten Challenge in Palo Alto, Calif.