Gophers volleyball loses to Penn State in Elite Eight

  • Article by: BRIAN PELOZA , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 8, 2012 - 10:52 PM

The Gophers' dream of a Final Four trip ended Saturday, but coach Hugh McCutcheon believes a national title is possible someday.

hide

Minnesota's Tori Dixon, right, hits against Penn State's Megan Courtney, left, and Micha Hancock during an NCAA women's college volleyball regional final.

Photo: Michael Heinz, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

WEST LAFAYETTE, IND. - Minnesota volleyball coach Hugh McCutcheon makes no secret that he has hopes of building a national championship program.

It won't happen this season, but the Gophers may not be too far away.

Penn State survived a scare and earned a 3-1 victory over the Gophers in the West Lafayette Regional final on Saturday in front of 2,842 in Mackey Arena.

The Gophers were within two points of taking a 2-1 lead in the match, but Penn State rallied to win the third set en route to a 25-19, 19-25, 26-24, 25-18 victory that sends the Nittany Lions to the Final Four.

"They've been consistently the best team in the league and it showed again tonight," McCutcheon said. "I thought we were close and had our chances."

Minnesota rallied from a six-point deficit in the third set and eventually took a 23-21 lead. Three consecutive Penn State kills out of a timeout, however, gave the Nittany Lions a 24-23 lead. Gophers senior Katherine Harms' kill tied the match at 24, but Penn State put the set away with Deja McClendon's block and Ariel Scott's kill.

The fourth set was tied at 17 before Penn State won eight of the match's final nine points.

Harms had 10 of her team-high 17 kills in the second and third sets, while Tori Dixon added seven of her eight kills during that span.

"It's not just that they're good hitters, but they only made 18 errors in the match, which is an incredibly low number for a team that takes as many big swings as they do," Penn State coach Russ Rose said. "As [Purdue coach Dave Shondell] said Friday, and I agree, they're an incredibly physical team that has some big arms."

McCutcheon said Penn State's defense is so good that the Nittany Lions likely average getting one more attack dug per set than other teams.

"That may not seem like a big deal, but when it's 23-22, a ball that normally goes down doesn't go down because they can keep it up in play with good defense," McCutcheon said.

Penn State (33-2) nearly ran away with the match early, winning the first set 25-19 and taking a 7-3 lead in the second. Then a Gophers timeout turned the match, as the Gophers scored 14 of the next 16 points, using that momentum to win the set.

"We definitely weren't playing our game in the beginning," said the Gophers' Ashley Wittman. "It took some harsh words by some people to give us a boost. In the beginning we were letting them roll all over us and we weren't fighting, we were backing away. After the timeout everyone decided we weren't going to go down without a fight."

Minnesota will return six of the nine who played against Penn State, including Daly Santana (eight kills, 13 digs), Dixon (eight kills), Wittman (seven kills) and Alexandra Palmer (38 assists).

"Maybe we'll be one contact better," said McCutcheon, who finished his first season in Minnesota with a 27-8 record. "I think I have a better understanding of this environment and institution. I still believe we can build a national championship program in Minnesota. That's the hope for us."

  • related content

  • FINAL FOUR

    Sunday December 9, 2012

    When: Thursday and Saturday

  • NCAA D-I REGIONAL FINAL PENN STATE 3, GOPHERS 1

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Boston - A. Ranaudo 6:05 PM
Pittsburgh - C. Morton
Toronto - D. Hutchison 6:05 PM
Baltimore - U. Jimenez
Washington - T. Roark 6:10 PM
Atlanta - A. Harang
Miami - N. Eovaldi 6:10 PM
NY Mets - B. Colon
NY Yankees - M. Pineda 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - J. Odorizzi
Cincinnati - J. Cueto 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - J. Arrieta
Chicago WSox - C. Bassitt 7:10 PM
Kansas City - L. Hendriks
Cleveland - C. Kluber 7:10 PM
Houston - N. Tropeano
Detroit - R. Porcello 7:10 PM
Minnesota - R. Nolasco
Milwaukee - W. Peralta 7:15 PM
St. Louis - L. Lynn
Los Angeles - D. Haren 7:40 PM
Colorado - T. Matzek
San Francisco - J. Peavy 8:40 PM
Arizona - J. Collmenter
Seattle - R. Elias 9:05 PM
LA Angels - C. Rasmus
Texas - N. Tepesch 9:05 PM
Oakland - S. Kazmir
Philadelphia - A. Burnett 9:10 PM
San Diego - I. Kennedy
Tampa Bay 9/18/14 7:25 PM
Atlanta
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
(5) Auburn 9/18/14 6:30 PM
(20) Kansas State
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Toronto 9/19/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Edmonton 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.
Sep 27 - at Michigan TBA
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern TBA
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close