Friday, 22 September 2023

International Volleyball

Shaffmaster, No. 10 Minnesota top No. 6 Oregon; Stanford sweeps Ohio State

Shaffmaster, No. 10 Minnesota top No. 6 Oregon; Stanford sweeps Ohio State

PALO ALTO, California — There are always six degrees of volleyball separation seemingly anywhere you go in our sport.

Friday at Stanford, well, everyone seemed tied to each other.

The ties that bind were evident everywhere as fifth-ranked Stanford swept No. 15 Ohio State after No. 10 Minnesota beat No. 6 Oregon in five.

Start with the coaches, where Kevin Hambly is in his seventh year on The Farm. In 2011, he took Illinois to NCAA title match, where the Illini lost to UCLA. One of his assistants on that team? Ohio State coach Jen Flynn Oldenburg.

J-FO’s ties went deep here. For starters, when the third-year OSU coach watched the first match, she saw two of her former Buckeyes play each other, Oregon outside Gabby Gonzales and Minnesota libero Kylie Murr, who happen to be best of friends.

Gabby Gonzales, left, and Kylie Murr

Among the players she’s coached on the national level was Stanford setter Kami Miner, who grew up down the Strand from Holly McPeak, who lives on Manhattan Beach and was doing the Pac-12 broadcast analysis.

The gathering was a reunion for former Pac-12 rival coaches and good friends Matt Ulmer, in his seventh year at Oregon, and first-year Minnesota coach Keegan Cook, who came from Washington. And, of course, they’ll be Big Ten rivals next year when Oregon joins the B1G.

Murr is from Yorktown, Indiana, just outside of Muncie, and will on Saturday be sure to serve to Stanford’s Caitie Baird, who is from nearby Indianapolis.

And speaking of Indiana, there was Minnesota senior setter Melani Shaffmaster, who is from New Castle, which is south of Muncie and east of Indy, and, who, with a braced right leg is better on one leg than most setters are on two.

“It’s OK,” Shaffmaster said with a laugh. “It’s fine. I have my other one. It’s just not as good as my left one … It’s manageable. It’s OK.”

Shaffmaster has been dealing with her knee since middle school, but more on that in a bit.

Minnesota beat Oregon in Maples Pavilion 25-21, 23-25, 21, 25, 25-20, 16-14 in a match that was all that and more, ending with the 6-foot-3 Shaffmaster crushing an overpass to give her Gophers a much-need victory.

“We needed that,” said Murr, Shaffmaster’s former Munciana club mate.

Minnesota beat TCU and Baylor to open the season, but then lost in four to Texas and this past Sunday got swept at Florida. Tough scheduling can mean tough losses.

“After playing Texas and Florida we came to California…

Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at…