Gophers advance to second straight Final Four

December 12, 2016
Gopher volleyball players celebrate in a match against UCLA.

The No. 2 Gopher women’s volleyball team weathered a slow start and rallied to beat UCLA in straight sets Saturday night at a raucous Sports Pavilion to advance to the NCAA Final Four for a second consecutive year.

Minnesota, 29-4 and led by six seniors, now heads to Columbus, Ohio, to try to claim the program’s first national title. The Gophers will face No. 6 seed Stanford—which upended No. 3 Wisconsin in Madison—Thursday evening in the first semifinal at 6 p.m. The other semifinal has No. 1 Nebraska taking on No. 4 Texas. The championship match will be played Saturday, Dec. 17.

The win over UCLA marked the 36th consecutive home victory for Minnesota, dating back to October 2014. The Gophers were a perfect 15-0 at home last season and 17-0 this year, including four victories in the NCAA Tournament in which they dropped only one set.

Minnesota was led offensively by Big Ten Player of the Year Sarah Wilhite, who had 15 kills and was named tournament MVP. Joining her on the all-tournament team were fellow Gophers Molly Lohman and Samantha Seliger-Swenson.

The Gophers will be making their fifth appearance in the Final Four. They lost in the semifinals in 2003, 2009, and 2015, and fell in the championship game to Stanford in 2004.

Update: Minnesota lost in four sets to Stanford in the semifinals, 24-26, 19-25, 25-22, 22-25. The Gophers finished the season with a record of 29-5.