Swept by Creighton, Gopher Volleyball knocked out in second round of NCAA Tournament

OMAHA, Neb. –The Minnesota volleyball team racked up 11 blocks in three sets, but ultimately fell to the No. 3 seeded Creighton Bluejays Saturday night (21-25, 20-25, 27-29) in the NCAA Tournament Round of 32.

Minnesota finishes its 2023 season with a 17-13 (12-8 Big Ten) record.

“I liked our response in the third set, we had the chance to extend it [to four sets], just fell short,” said head coach Keegan Cook. “The margins are thin. I can’t say enough good things about this group I got to coach this year. There was a lot of change and transitions are hard. This group met every bit of adversity along the way and got better from week to week. We were playing our best volleyball at the end of the year, and that’s all you can hope for.”

The Golden Gophers offense was paced by Taylor Landfair (12 kills) and Mckenna Wucherer (11). Defensively, the Gophers had two players reach double figures in digs as Kylie Murr had 16 and Melani Shaffmaster had 13. From the front row, Phoebe Awoleye contributed six blocks and Arica Davis added five rejections.

As a team, Minnesota hit .202 with 36 kills, 55 digs, 11 blocks and three aces. Creighton hit .255 with 56 kills, 53 digs, seven blocks and four aces.

Norah Sis (16 kills) and Ava Martin (15) led the Bluejays offense while Kiana Schmitt had 44 assists and 17 digs. The Bluejays (29-4, 16-2 BIG EAST) will move on to play No. 2 seeded Louisville in the Sweet 16 next week.

How It Happened
SET 1 | The Golden Gophers found themselves in an early hole, losing the first set 25-21. Creighton grabbed the advantage for good at 11-10 in a set that was knotted up four times before the Bluejays took control.

SET 2 | Minnesota fell in the second set 25-20, digging a 2-0 deficit in the match. Creighton grabbed the advantage for good at 15-14 in a set that was tied up six times before the Bluejays took over in the second half of the stanza.

SET 3 | Minnesota couldn’t prolong the match and lost in set number three. The Gophers fell in a tight set, losing 29-27 in a stanza that was tied 11 times and had three lead changes. Minnesota had three shots at set point but couldn’t close it out to send it to a fourth.

Game Notes
» Minnesota’s all-time NCAA Tournament record moved to 62-28. In the second round, Minnesota is 20-7 all-time.
» The Gophers made their ninth straight NCAA Tournament in 2023 and their 24th in their last 25 seasons.
» It was just the first time in their last 14 NCAA Tournament appearances that the ‘U’ did not make the Sweet 16. The Gophers were 3-0 in the NCAA Tournament vs. Creighton until tonight.
» Phoebe Awoleye had a match-high six blocks in the final game of her Minnesota career.
» Taylor Landfair had a team-high 12 kills for Minnesota, her 19th 10+ kill match of the season.
» Minnesota got a team-high 16 digs from Kylie Murr. Murr had 10+ digs in every match this season, the only player in the Big Ten to accomplish that feat. She ends her college career with 2,407 career digs, which ranks second all-time in Big Ten laurels.
» Minnesota attackers were helped by a team-high 26 assists from Melani Shaffmaster, who also had 13 digs. Shaffmaster totaled 19 double doubles in 2023, a Big Ten-best.

Courtesy: University of Minnesota Sports Information