Gophers Advance to Final Four
The University of Minnesota volleyball team downed Illinois in straight sets and then the University of Hawaii in a four-set thriller at the Des Moines Regional to advance to the Final Four for the fourth time—and first since 2009.
The No. 2-seed Gophers will now head to Omaha in search of their first national championship. They’ll square off against No. 3 Texas in the first semifinal on Thursday evening, with No. 4 Nebraska and No. 9 Kansas playing immediately after. The two winners will play for the title on Saturday evening.
The Gophers were led by Big Ten Player of the Year Daly Santana, who was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Des Moines Regional. Santana had 26 kills against Hawaii on Saturday evening, and at times seemed to will the team to a victory in a tense fourth set. She was joined on the All-Tournament Team by Sarah Wilhite and Hannah Tapp.
The Gophers, 30-4, were also backed by a large contingent of fans who made the short journey south to Des Moines, and at times Wells Fargo Arena felt like an oversized Sports Pavilion.
The only schools with more Final Four appearances than Minnesota since 2003 are Penn State (7), Texas (6), Stanford (5), and USC (5).