(KMSP) - The Gopher volleyball team continues their road to the NCAA National Championship title Friday when they host Oregon in the regional semi-finals.
The teams met earlier in the regular season, and Oregon went on to hand Minnesota one of its three losses on the season. But this time around, the stakes are higher and the Gophers are confident they'll emerge victorious in the rematch.
It's rare that teams have the opportunity to play for a national championship in their home city, but with just three more wins, the Gophers will have the chance to do just that as the Final Four comes to the Target Center next week.
As enticing as the dream scenario is, however, the Gophers aren't thinking that far ahead just yet.
“As much as we know what we want, we don't want that to get in the way of what we have to do to get there, so just trying to manage this thing as best we can point to point, set to set, whatever it is - match to match - that's what we're going to try and do, understanding we still got a ton of work," said Head Coach Hugh McCutcheon.
The work continues Friday as the Gophers are scheduled to host Oregon in the regional sem-final.
The Ducks are just one of three teams to earn a win over the Gophers this season, and the team feels it'll be better-prepared the second time around.
“I just feel like a lot of errors on our side was happening. We kind of weren't hitting the ball a lot. A lot of balls were dropping, lack of communication…but I feel like for this game, if we just clean up on everything we'll be fine," said Alexis Hart, Gophers outside hitter.
“We knew they were good. They’re still good, so I don't know if there's anything new there, but we're able to watch some matches of some of their more recent games and we'll put a plan together and see, but at this point of the tournament, everyone can play," McCutcheon added.
The Gophers finished the season as Big Ten champions, and now a national title is within reach.
Overcoming the Ducks is the next step in proving that Minnesota should be considered among the best in the country.
“I think they're fired up and you should be. You work hard all year to get to the tournament and try to play these big matches," McCutcheon said.