For the fifth consecutive year, the Gophers volleyball team will play in the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.
The No. 7 Gophers fended off two match points in the fourth set, rattling off four consecutive points to force a decisive fifth set against the Creighton Bluejays.
Then, with the score knotted at eight, the resurgent Gophers rattled off seven of the next nine points to escape Maturi Pavilion with a 25-13, 19-25, 15-25, 26-24, 15-10 win.
The game proved to be a defensive slugfest as neither team put together an efficient attacking performance. Neither team’s hit percentage climbed above .200 for the match, while both sides registered 10 or more blocks.
he Gophers got off to a slow start in the first set for the second consecutive night. However, for the second night in a row, they responded.
After trailing 8-5 to open the set, Minnesota went on an emphatic 20-5 run that got the Gophers off and running.
The momentum didn’t carry into the second as the Gopher were able to win consecutive points twice while Creighton put together a pair of 4-0 runs, the latter closing out the set to bring the match even at a set apiece.
Creighton took control from there.
The Bluejays controlled the pace for most of the third set, never trailing in the set.
Creighton put together its best offensive set of the night, totaling a game-high 14 kills while limiting themselves to four errors.
Minnesota continued to battle into the fourth, as they were finally able to build some momentum for the first time since the first set.
The Gophers led for the majority of the set but could never bring their lead past three. The Bluejays put together a 5-2 run late in the set to take a 24-22 lead forcing match point.
Minnesota forced back-to-back attack errors to even the score at 24, a CC McGraw service ace put them up one, then another Creighton error closed out the set.
With new life, the Gophers imposed their will in the deciding set and when Minnesota had the chance for a match point, theydidn’t waste it. A Regan Pittman block put the finishing touches on a miraculous comeback win.
That sets up a rematch against the Florida Gators next weekend in the Sweet Sixteen.
The Gophers beat the Gators 3-0 on Sept. 7. If Minnesota takes care of business, there it would most likely set up another rematch against the No. 2-seeded Texas Longhorns.