Gopher Volleyball 2016: NCAA Tournament

By midway through the fifth set I'd seen quite enough of Hawaii's Nikki Taylor; apparently, she wanted to hang around another day. I'd like a nice boring Gopher win; but the needle is leaning toward raucous.

The Sports Pavilion has just gone silent early in the first set as Hawaii's Nikki Taylor is down with an apparent significant injury to her leg. BTN Plus isn't showing the replay.

Uh oh, Hawaii star Nikki Taylor down early with an ankle injury. Maybe stepped on Wilhite's foot a bit coming down from trying to block her.

At the match in ok seats. The Pavilion is rocking.

The Gophers can legitimately win it all.

Too bad Nikki Taylor went down so early. Really changed the matchup and it was a blowout from there on. Hawai'i played hard but didn't have the fire power without their star.

Big Ten update:
Still in - NE, PSU, WI, OSU, MN and MI all advance to the sweet sixteen. OSU's second win was an upset of 14th ranked Kansas St.
Out - (both in second round) Purdue and MSU in an upset loss to Arizona

However, NE v PSU and WI v OSU will be matchups in the next round

In the rest of the bracket - the big upset loss was 5th ranked Kansas falling to Creighton in the second round. With a record of 26-2, Kansas had complained saying they were more deserving than Texas for a coveted top four ranking. (Kansas had a better conference and overall record, split their matches with Texas and won the Big 12 conference title - but committee saw it differently.)

The official bracket with live games updates can be found here -

I didn't see Nikki Taylor's injury even though we sit mid-court upper deck. Taylor did come back to the bench on crutches with her ankle iced and leg heavily taped. Minnesota pretty much picked apart Hawaii's defense after that. Missouri up next.

Gophers play Missouri at 7:15 PM Friday. UCLA and UNC play at 9:45. Regional Championship game time is 9:00 PM Saturday.

Here's the Regional schedules (when you have four regionals in the same time zone scheduling is tough:

Lincoln Regional – at Lincoln, Nebraska
No. 1 Nebraska* (29-2) vs. No. 16 Penn St. (24-9) at 11 a.m. on ESPNU
No. 8 Washington (28-4) vs. Arizona (20-14) at 1:30 p.m. on ESPN3
Lincoln Regional Final- 3 p.m. on ESPNU

Madison Regional – at Madison, Wisconsin
No. 3 Wisconsin* (27-4) vs. Ohio St. (22-12) at 1 p.m. on ESPNU
No. 6 Stanford (23-7) vs. Florida St. (26-5) at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN3
Madison Regional Final- 5 p.m. on ESPNU

Austin Regional – at Austin, Texas
No. 4 Texas* (27-4) vs. No. 13 BYU (29-3) at 3 p.m. on ESPNU
No. 12 Michigan (24-10) vs. Creighton (28-6) at 5:30 p.m. on ESPN3
Austin Regional Final- 7 p.m. on ESPNU

Minneapolis Regional – at Minneapolis, Minnesota
No. 2 Minnesota*(27-4) vs. No. 15 Missouri (27-5) at 7:15 p.m. on ESPN3
No. 7 North Carolina (29-3) vs. No. 10 UCLA (26-6) at 9:45 p.m. on ESPNU
Minneapolis Regional Final- 9 p.m. on ESPNU

A view from Missouri (actually Purdue's Dave Shondell's opinion on the Tiger/Gopher matchup).

After Purdue's 3-1 loss to the Missouri volleyball team during the second round of the NCAA Tournament, Coach Dave Shondell called the Tigers a "special group." Shondell thought he had the players to counteract MU's technical skill and speed.

He was wrong.

“They just had too much skill for a group of really physical athletes to handle,” Shondell said. “It’s just something that you don’t see very often, that fast of a back-row attack. It really complicated it. Quite frankly, we thought we had a good plan, but having a good plan and being able to catch up with it … it was just too fast for us.”

Shondell had about 22 hours to prepare for Missouri, which swept last Thursday's nightcap over Northern Illinois inside the Hearnes Center. He said it wasn't enough time.

"They're a tough nut to crack," Shondell said...

...Shondell likened a matchup between the Tigers and Gophers to a high-scoring NBA game. Missouri and Minnesota have been potent offensive teams. The Gophers are sixth nationally in hitting percentage (.290) compared to the Tigers, who rank 17th, by hitting .274.

"They're a system team kind of like Missouri is," Shondell said of the Gophers. "They run a lot behind the setter, which is going to make it difficult for Missouri because they're not very big back there. You're blocking with Carly Kan and Melanie Crow. Blocking's not their thing. They're good players but blocking is not their thing. There are going to be a ton of balls going back that way."

Still, the Purdue coach gave the Tigers a shot.

Terps coach Steve Aird breaks down the remain 6 B1G teams

Missouri at Minnesota: “I don’t know a lot about Missouri but what I know about Minnesota is that after we played there (and was swept on Sept. 23) they were the most complete team we had seen up to that point. Minnesota, what they do so well, is they make very few errors. They make you play volleyball. They serve receive well, the setting is elite, and they just don’t make many errors. If they’re at three or four errors a game, you have to play flawlessly to beat them. And then you have to repeat that two more times. They play so clean.”

Pioneer Press article:

McCutcheon’s first full recruiting class — the high school class of 2013 — is now a mature group of seniors, responsible for the Gophers’ No. 1 ranking and No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament...

...When that class arrived, it was a big class in 2013, the team was still good … But after the graduating class of 2013 left, that seemed to be the right time to shift things a little bit,” he said, speaking about a group of incoming players that includes standouts Hannah and Paige Tapp and star Sarah Wilhite. “I thought there needed to be a shift in the way we were doing things. They were the group that carried that load.”

McCutcheon said that group wasn’t entrenched in another culture and was on board with the on-court and off-court changes he wanted to make.

“Principally, they were aligned in what we wanted to do,” he said. “They wanted to dream some big dreams and do what we wanted to do … That was probably the best attribute of that class.”

Star Tribune: The Tapps:

Their résumés bear all the hallmarks of the classic overachiever. During their four years with the Gophers, Paige and Hannah Tapp have amassed a pile of volleyball honors, maintained high grade-point averages in the rigorous Carlson School of Management and made the shortlist for a national award recognizing scholarship and service.

The Stewartville, Minn., natives admit, though, that they didn’t understand their true potential until arriving at the U. Coach Hugh McCutcheon saw it all along. Early in their careers, he pushed the Tapps and the rest of the Gophers’ seniors to expand their idea of what is possible — and in raising the bar for themselves, they lifted the entire program.

#16 Penn State goes up 2-0 on #1 Nebraska in the first match of the day in Lincoln, 25-23, 25-23.

Down goes Penn St. Nebraska saves two match points in Game 3 and sweep the last 3 games to win 3-2. Glad we didn't have to beat Penn St.

Buckeyes take a 2-1 lead on Wisconsin with a 31-29 set 3 win! Big Ten putting on a good show so far today :)

Ugh, Buckeyes blew a 19-14 lead in Set 4 and then lost in the 5th set 15-13.

1-0 against Missouri. Looking dominant so far.

Looked like an amazing atmosphere on tv. Fun to watch

Will the match start at 9pm tonight, or later because it's the 4th televised game? ESPNU has them at 3, 5, 7 and 9pm. If any match goes 5 sets, that would either push the start time past 9pm, or just pick up the match in progress.

Will the match start at 9pm tonight, or later because it's the 4th televised game? ESPNU has them at 3, 5, 7 and 9pm. If any match goes 5 sets, that would either push the start time past 9pm, or just pick up the match in progress.

My guess is they will start it on ESPN3 if a game goes late.

I wouldn't call myself a big volleyball fan but have really enjoyed watching this team play.

My guess is they will start it on ESPN3 if a game goes late.

I wouldn't call myself a big volleyball fan but have really enjoyed watching this team play.

It will start on ESPN3 (slight chance they'll use ESPN News) if the previous match goes long. Streaming last night, The Thrice looked as good on my tv as the other espn stations.

I thought UCLA looked scrappy last night, but I think we will stomp them. I didn't see anyone that will really hurt us.

That was a fun evening. Carly Kan was terrific and Missouri was as advertised. Then the Bruins did their part setting up three B1G/Pac 12 regional finals. In Texas-Go Bluejays!.

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