MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.(UND Athletics) -- For the second straight season, host Minnesota had to survive an upset-minded North Dakota team in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. This season, the seventh-seeded Gophers advanced with a 25-20, 25-15, 25-20 win Friday evening at the Joel Maturi Sports Pavilion in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
North Dakota (30-8) was led by Jordan Vail with nine kills while Ashley Brueggeman added eight.
“I’m really proud of the growth that we’ve experienced, especially this year,” UND head coach Mark Pryor said. “We were back again to play Minnesota. I think that the vibe was different this time around, as far as, not just happy to be here, but let’s compete. And, if you look at it, for us to out-block; to double Minnesota in blocks, and we have the same number of hitting errors, we’re trending in the right direction to be able to play against these teams. They were able to, in the first and third sets it was very close, and we’re really moving in a great direction, we’ve just got to be able to do a little more once we kind of get into that 19-20 range, they were able to hold on a little bit, and we honestly, at times, were thinking, we can actually do this, and that’s a great feeling, but sometimes that emotion got away from us a little bit in those sets.”
Minnesota (27-5) will play Northern Iowa-- who swept Louisville in the day's earlier match-- in the second round Saturday.
Notes: Five UND seniors played in their final matches of their careers (Faitih Dooley, Sydney Griffin, Julia Kaczorowska, Tamara Merseli and Teodora Tepavac) ... That group helped UND to its best four-year record in school history (103-40), three Big Sky North Division titles, two league tournament crowns and the school's first two NCAA Division I Tournament berths ... Minnesota is aiming for its third straight Final Four appearance ... UND's 30 wins were the most in program history, breaking that mark by four wins.