NCAA regional in Austin, Texas
Texas unbeaten at home
Friday: No. 7 Gophers vs. No. 10 Florida, 5:30 p.m. (streamed on ESPN3); No. 2 Texas vs. Louisville, 3 p.m. (ESPNU).
Saturday: Regional final, 7 p.m. (ESPNU).
At stake: The Austin champion advances to the Final Four in Pittsburgh, joining the winners of the regionals in Waco, Texas; Madison, Wis.; and Stanford, Calif.
Gophers (25-5): The Gophers, one of five Big Ten teams in the Sweet 16, swept Florida in their home opener Sept. 7. They are 4-1 all-time against the Gators. The Gophers have won 11 of their past 12 road matches and are 3-3 in NCAA regional semifinals under coach Hugh McCutcheon. Stephanie Samedy is the Gophers’ top hitter with 3.12 kills per set, while Regan Pittman leads in blocks (1.42) and CC McGraw in digs (4.12).
Florida (27-4): The Gators swept Alabama State and Central Florida to open the tournament. They are 16-1 in their past 17 matches. Rachael Kramer, a 6-8 middle blocker and two-time All-America, is hitting an SEC-best .453, while sophomore outside hitter Thayer Hall leads the team with 3.76 kills per set.
Texas (23-3): Texas is 14-0 this season at Gregory Gym, losing only six sets. The Longhorns swept the Gophers at home on Sept. 4. They lead the nation in hitting percentage (.325), and senior Micaya White tops a balanced group of hitters with 4.00 kills per set.
Louisville (21-9): After going 4-5 in their final nine regular-season matches, the unseeded Cardinals swept Samford and defeated Western Kentucky 3-2 to reach the regional semifinal. Senior Melanie McHenry paces the offense with 3.58 kills per set.