‘We never backed down in any moment’: Minnesota ends USD’s season in NCAA Tournament

KELOLAND.com Original

MINNEAPOLIS, MN (KELO) — The USD volleyball team made it difficult for the Golden Gophers, but ultimately #12 Minnesota was able to pick up the 3-0 win in the NCAA Tournament.

“I’m really proud of our players today. I feel like they approached this game in a really positive way,” USD head coach Leanne Williamson said. “I think we walked away from that Mizzou (Missouri) match (last spring), I think regretting a bit about how we approached the game, attacked the game and how we responded when things got tough. Today, I felt like we were aggressive and fearless in a lot of situations.”

“I think we’re really proud of how we played. We never really backed down in any moment,” USD senior Madison Jurgens said. “We started off slow that first set, but we ended up closing out the match really well. I don’t think there was any moment where we doubted ourselves. We stayed confident and we stayed true to ourselves. They’re a good team, so I don’t think we have anything to be upset about after that game.”

USD had a rough start to the match as they scored the first point of the match, but then allowed eight straight to Minnesota, falling into an 8-1 hole early.

However, the Coyotes would rattle off six straight of their own to put themselves right back into the game.

“I think that’s a testament to our team. We were down by that much, but we continued to fight, and I don’t think we could’ve said that at the beginning of the season,” USD senior Maddie Wiedenfeld said.

USD would continue to battle in the first set, but they could never even up the set.

Minnesota would put a little gap in the score late in the set to pull away for a 25-19 set victory.

The second set was a true battle from first point to last. The score never got further than five points apart.

USD would score three straight in the middle of the set to tie it up at 17 and force Minnesota to use their first timeout.

That was the opportunity for the Coyotes, but the Golden Gophers came out of the timeout on fire as they went on a 6-2 run.

USD would try to claw back into the set, but Minnesota would hold them off for a 25-22 set win.

The Golden Gophers would continue to roll with the momentum as they raced out to 10-5 lead in the third set.

They would keep the Coyotes at arm’s reach throughout the set as Minnesota picked up a third and final set win, 25-17.

The Golden Gophers earned a 3-0 sweep over USD.

USD struggled with errors throughout the match as they had 26 attack errors which was nearly double Minnesota’s 14 errors. USD averaged less than 18 attack errors per game prior to Friday.

Minnesota was led by Jenna Wenaas early in that match as she quickly collected ten kills. She finished the match with a 41.7% kill percentage.

However, it was the two-time defending Big Ten Player of the Year, Stephanie Samedy, who went for a match high 13 kills. Though that was below her average of 4.84 kills per set.

“I mean, she’s really, really good. She does make it difficult, but I felt like overall our block was set up fairly well and we were able to get some digs on here,” Williamson said. “I think we made them go to her a little more often in some situations, which again shows they needed to find ways to score points in that moment.”

USD concludes their season with an impressive 20-10 record and a Summit League Tournament Championship.

This year’s senior class will certainly be remembered for what they were able to accomplish, which included three NCAA Tournament appearances in four seasons.

“We’ve got a good group that have been here through different times of the program’s success, but they have won a lot,” Williamson said. “Multiple conference championships, NCAA Tournament three out of the last four years and the one year we didn’t make the tournament, we made a run at the NIVC and just lost in the finals, so they’ve had a lot of success. They’ve really elevated the programs.”

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