Waiting to learn their NCAA volleyball tournament fate will look different for each of the Gophers.
For senior Stephanie Samedy — probably resting. For coach Hugh McCutcheon — probably preparing and parenting. For junior Adanna Rollins — probably watching her go-to television show, "The Real Housewives of Atlanta."
They have a day's worth of time to fill now that the regular season is over. As they wait for the NCAA tournament field to be announced at 3 p.m. Sunday on ESPNU, it's less so anxiousness and more so anticipation. "I think we have a great chance of doing well in the seeding," Rollins said. "I'm really excited to see what we get."
The Gophers showed why Saturday. They closed out the regular season with a 3-0 victory over Iowa at Maturi Pavilion, extending their winning streak over the Hawkeyes to 48. Minnesota (15-2) also defeated Iowa on Friday 3-0.
The Hawkeyes traded blows and stayed within range of the Gophers for most of the first set, but Minnesota kept chipping away with small runs and won 25-18. Thee Gophers dominated in the second, winning 25-14 and at one point going on a 12-1 run.
Once Minnesota took a 6-5 lead in the third, it cruised to a 25-16 win and the three-set victory. Samedy led all players with 14 kills as Minnesota outhit Iowa .371 to .135.
"Overall, really strong performance," McCutcheon said. "It feels pretty good in terms of a buildup for what's to come."
Their tournament fate is not as much a matter of "if" as "which seed" as the Gophers look to make the field of 48 teams, fewer than the 64 in a normal season. Thirty conference champs will automatically qualify. Two of the 32 Division I conferences with automatic bids, the Ivy League and Big West, did not play volleyball this year because of COVID-19.
The top 16 seeds will receive a first-round bye, and the Gophers hope to be one of those teams. They've got a good shot, coming into Saturday's match ranked No. 3 in the country. No. 1 Wisconsin, however, won the Big Ten title.
McCutcheon called a first-round bye a significant advantage.
"That's a really nice deal," he said. "If you only get to play one match out of those first two dates of competition, it gives you a little bit easier scout and preparation time."
Minnesota's résumé includes wins over No. 4 Nebraska, No. 8 Purdue (twice) and No. 11 Penn State (twice).
As to what the NCAA tournament seedings and teams will look like, that is anyone's guess. Different conferences had different structures to their seasons, and not all teams within even the same conferences played the same number of games. The Big 12, for example, played its season in the fall, and Texas earned an automatic NCAA bid in November.
Cross-conference play was also not common. As a result, comparisons will be difficult for the Division I women's volleyball committee of 10 to make when crafting the 48-team field.
The NCAA tournament is set to start April 14-15 for the first and second rounds in Omaha at the CHI Health Center Arena and Convention Center. The entire tournament will be held there instead of regional locations as in past years.
"The fact that it's different is exciting," Samedy said. "Being open to whatever comes our way."