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Hugh McCutcheon has no interest in the sentimental. At least not yet.

After walking off the Maturi Pavilion parquet Saturday night for the last time as Gophers volleyball coach, following a dismantling, 25-18, 25-16, 25-15 sweep of Northern Iowa that sent Minnesota to its eighth straight Sweet 16, he was more than happy to stay in the now.

As he spoke to the media after the match, on his right was CC McGraw, the departing fifth-year libero who had a perfect night serving and receiving, and on his left was Taylor Landfair, who gave a thunderous display with a team-high 11 kills.

They were part of a team effort that was so balanced, so utterly dominant, it seemed natural to keep the focus on them.

"It has always been about the team," McCutcheon said. "I promise you the most satisfying thing is being here with these athletes who have gone through a really incredible season."

The Gophers were vicious on the attack, hitting .287. Defensively, they held the Panthers to a season-low .056 hitting percentage. They posted 16 blocks and had the impenetrable defense and elevated offense that make them as dangerous as any team in the country.

In that way it was just another night watching a McCutcheon-led Gophers team play exceptional volleyball at home.

The only difference was this was his last time.

Pacing the sideline, tablet and notebook in hand, maroon pullover blending into the crowd, McCutcheon thrust his arms into the air when kills landed, screamed defensive assignments at his middles and urged his team at every turn.

He will resign at the end of this season, but on Saturday night he seemed to bask in the normalcy of it all.

And with good reason.

Northern Iowa came into the match with poise and excitement after handling Florida State on Friday, and the Panthers started on fire Saturday — holding a 16-14 lead midway through the first set.

But then the Gophers came frighteningly alive. Minnesota closed the first set on an 11-2 run and kept that same energy in the second and third.

"It's just the kind of team they are. They're so balanced," Northern Iowa coach Bobbi Petersen said. "And they can go to anybody."

It was a Gophers showcase.

Landfair drawing her arm back like an archer and turning the ball into a weapon on her way to a team-high 11 kills. Carter Booth tracking every inch of the Panthers offensive movements, tirelessly leaping to shut down their attack with a career-high 11 blocks while the whole team worked the dig. Melani Shaffmaster vibrating in the middle, tossing out 25 assists while dictating play.

"Here we are playing great in December," McCutcheon said. "Like we talked about in August."

Next comes a matchup with Ohio State in Austin, Texas on Thursday. The teams will not lack familiarity. The Buckeyes defeated the Gophers in three sets at Maturi Pavilion in October. Minnesota returned the favor last weekend in Columbus, winning in four sets.

The Longhorns, the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament, will face Marquette in the other half of the regional semifinals.

Enormous matches are coming. The margin for wins and losses will tighten.

But you could not have crafted a better final match at home for McCutcheon. His players were decisive, cohesive and at their very best at the most important time of the season.

It almost felt poetic.

"That was a great thing to be a part of," McCutcheon said before adding a little disclaimer, "but we're not waxing philosophical at this point."