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

Chicago 17 FINAL
Detroit 34
Philadelphia 3:30 PM
Dallas
Seattle 7:30 PM
San Francisco
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Edmonton 7:00 PM
Nashville
ULM 54 FINAL
Robert Morris 71
Santa Clara 57 FINAL
Tennessee 64
Oklahoma 59 FINAL
Butler 46
Austin Peay 79 FINAL
Brown 58
Princeton 56 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 62
Coastal Carolina 50 2nd Half 7:26
Chattanooga 57
Kansas 52 2nd Half 11:14
Rhode Island 38
Wisconsin 22 1st Half 6:56
Georgetown 23
FIU 22 1st Half 4:23
USC Upstate 22
Long Island 3 1st Half 17:39
Stony Brook 4
San Diego 3:30 PM
Xavier
Illinois 4:00 PM
Indiana State
Western Ky 5:00 PM
Saint Josephs
Cal State Fullerton 5:00 PM
Wright State
Michigan State 5:30 PM
Rider
UCLA 6:00 PM
North Carolina
Marquette 7:30 PM
Georgia Tech
Long Beach State 7:30 PM
Western Mich
Stephen F Austin 8:00 PM
Prairie View
UAB 8:30 PM
Florida
Rice 8:30 PM
Mercer
San Jose St 10:00 PM
Washington
Washington St 10:59 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Baylor 10:59 PM
Memphis
LSU 6:30 PM
Texas A&M
(6) TCU 6:30 PM
Texas
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
East Carolina
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Hartford 43 FINAL
Furman 53
Clemson 77 FINAL
Ohio State 86
Idaho State 53 FINAL
San Diego State 68
East Carolina 58 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 69
Santa Clara 0 Cancelled
Texas-El Paso 0
Florida State 23 1st Half 3:36
Washington 28
Wichita State 10 1st Half 6:33
Fla Gulf Coast 15
Wisconsin 3:15 PM
(1) South Carolina
BYU 5:00 PM
BYU-Hawaii
Charlotte 5:00 PM
Montana
Illinois 5:00 PM
(9) Kentucky
Kansas State 0 Cancelled
LSU 0
Central Michigan 7:00 PM
Richmond
Oklahoma 7:15 PM
South Florida
Princeton 7:30 PM
Wake Forest
(19) Oregon State 8:00 PM
Butler
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.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 amX28-24
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa 11 amX51-14
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State 11 amX31-24
Nov 22 - at Nebraska 11 amX28-24
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin 2:30 pm

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Will the Gophers bring home The Axe?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close