AUSTIN, Texas -- There was no drama for the Gophers volleyball team this time. Just an overpowering display of the team’s power and balance, and the program’s first trip to the Final Four since 2016.
The No. 7-seeded Gophers dispatched unseeded Louisville in three sets in their regional final Saturday night, Dec. 14, in Austin, winning 25-21, 25-14, 25-16.
Minnesota (27-5) will play either Big Ten rival Penn State or No. 3-seeded Stanford in a national semifinal on Thursday in Pittsburgh. The Nittany Lions and Cardinal, the defending champions, played in a late match in Palo Alto, Calif.
Another of the Gophers’ conference rivals will definitely be at PPG Paints Arena. Big Ten champion Wisconsin, the No. 4 seed, continued its dominant run through the tourney with a three-set win over Nebraska in their regional final in Madison, Wis. The Badgers have not lost a set in their four tourney wins. They will face No. 1 overall seed Baylor in their semifinal.
The times of the national semifinals have not been set.
The Gophers’ victory was a much different performance from the U’s two previous matches. Against Creighton in the second round, Minnesota survived match point in the fourth set. And against Florida in the regional semifinal, the Gophers came back after trailing two sets to one.
It’s the Gophers’ third Final Four appearance under coach Hugh McCutcheon, in his eighth season, and the program’s sixth overall.
Louisville (22-10) stunned No. 2-seeded Texas in five sets on Friday night.
The first set against the Gophers was the closest the Cardinals would come to duplicating their upset magic, however. Minnesota led 22-21, but a pair of attack errors by Louisville and a service ace finished the set.
The Gophers used a couple of mid-set surges, both fueled in part by the Cardinals’ troubles against the U’s imposing front line, to capture the final two games.
Minnesota led 10-9 in the second set before a 10-2 surge put U firmly in control. Adanna Rollins and Alexis Hart each had kills in the run, and the Cardinals committed five attack errors.
The final set was tied 12-12 when the Gophers surged again, this time winning seven straight points as the Cardinals committed five more attack errors.
Rollins led the Gophers with 12 kills and three blocks, and Hart and Stephanie Samedy each had nine kills. Taylor Morgan added five kills.
The Gophers recorded 12½ blocks and nine service aces.