By Roman Augustoviz
In the Gophers’ first volleyball match at home, the U stomped Auburn 25-11, 25-17, 25-6 at the Sports Pavilion before a boistrous crowd of several thousand.
The match, the second of two on the first day of the Diet Coke Classic, took 61 minutes. Not sure if the 10-minute break between the second and third sets was included in the total time.
You get the point, though. No. 13-rated Minnesota (4-1) dominated. As did Iowa State which earlier beat George Washington 25-18, 25-18, 25-15.
Especially effective early for the Gophers last night was middle blocker Lauren Gibbemeyer. She had 11 kills in 15 attacks for a gaudy .667 hitting percentage.
Teammate Brook Dieter, an outside hitter, was a force in the third set with eight kills. She finished with 12 kills on 27 attacks and a .370 hitting percentage.
The Tigers (3-1) led only once and that was briefly at the start of the second set. The score also was tied twice early that set. Otherwise, the Gophers led from start to finish in the other two sets.
The Gophers, as a team, had a .421 hitting percentage, Auburn flatlined at .000 with 22 kills and 22 errors on 86 attacks.
Minnesota outblocked the Tigers 8-1, had a 5-1 edge in service aces and a 38-26 advantage in digs. All in all, a pretty complete victory.
Quite frankly, Auburn did not seem to have a dominant hitter and made a lot of errors.
On Saturday, the Gophers will get a tougher test, maybe from George Washington at 10:30 a.m. and for sure from Iowa State at 8 p.m.
* The Gophers starting lineup of Hailey Cowles, Gibbemeyer, Dieter, Taylor Carico, Megan Wilson and Christine Tan is pretty talented. Carico and Wilson, two transfers, are both seniors as is Tan. The other three are juniors.
* Gibbemeyer’s .667 was a career high. She had three quick kills to give the U a 5-2 lead in the first set.
* Carico, the setter, looked very comfortable and cool setting up her teammates. The U had only seven errors on attacks. Carico, the transfer from Southern Cal, had 25 assists, and two kills.
* Cowles has a nice serve. Its hard and low, and dips as it goes over the net. She served as the Gophers scored seven points in the third set to take a commanding 18-4 lead.
* Tabi Love, the 6-6 Canadian, hadf five kills and assisted on three blocks. She does not look that tall because the Gophers are loaded with 6-2 players, but Love has great potential. She hits hard.
* Tan, the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year, received 15 serves and did not make an error on any of them. She also had 14 digs. What a nice player to have in the back row. She dives all over the court for balls.
* Wilson, who had three of the team’s five service aces, and Ariana Filho, who had a solo block and assisted on three others, also did some good things for the Gophers.
Everyone will know a little more about them after Saturday’s two matches.
The U’s match against Auburn ended on a killy by Dieter. Average attendance last year at Gopher matches was 3,767, the fourth best in the nation. Not sure if there were that many Friday night but it was a good crowd.
Sitting near the front on one side of the court were the Iowa State players.
Leading the No. 12 Cyclones (4-0) over George Washington (3-1) were Victoria Henson with 13 kills and Rachel Hockaday and Kelsey Peterson with 10 apiece.
Iowa State had a .328 hitting percentage, GW .111.