With the #1 ranking likely on the line and Big Ten title implications down the road #3 Minnesota (14-2, 6-1) crushed the #1 Badgers (14-2, 6-1) in a three-set sweep. Minnesota controlled the net as Wisconsin could not keep up with the Gopher offense or get much past the Gopher block.
Wisconsin took the early lead, 6-4, in the first set. Then the Gophers with the help of Paige Tapp went on a 5-0 run that started the block party for the evening. Tapp and Alexis Hart combined for a block, then Tapp capped the run with a kill and solo block. Minnesota increased their lead over the middle of the set. Up 12-10 Minnesota scored seven of the next nine points to go up 19-12. Gophers got two kills from Hannah Tapp and double-blocks from Molly Lohman and Hart and Paige Tapp and Samantha Seliger-Swenson. Wisconsin answered back with a 5-1 run, cutting Minnesota’s lead to three, 20-17. Sarah Wilhite responded for Minnesota with three kills and combined with Hannah Tapp on a block to get the Gophers to set point. Four set points later Minnesota closed it out with a Hannah Tapp kill, 25-20. Sarah Wilhite had six kills for the Gophers and the team posted six blocks in the set.
Carrying over momentum from the first set Minnesota started the second set hot, a 5-0 run put Minnesota up 7-2. The Gophers grew their five point lead with a 8-2 run to gain a 20-9 lead. Molly Lohman was key putting down two kills and contributing on two blocks over the stretch. Wisconsin was able to cut into the lead little, by little, but it was too little too late. An Alexis Hart kill sealed the set 25-18. Minnesota again controlled the net denying Wisconsin five times while hitting .452 over the course of the set.
Minnesota scored first and carried a small lead through the middle of the third set. That was when they broke it up open. A 8-1 run gave Minnesota a 21-11 advantage. Wisconsin fell apart committing five hitting errors during the run. Seliger-Swenson had an impressive solo block and Paige Tapp added two kills for the Gophers. Unlike previous sets, Minnesota kept the pressure on through the finish winning 25-14 on their first match point.
Sarah Wilhite led the Gophers with 12 kills, .267 hitting, eight digs, and two block assists. Hannah Tapp hit .429 producing 11 kills and contributing on five blocks. Paige Tapp was nearly equally effective hitting .438 converting nine kills and helped on five blocks. Molly Lohman, though, led all Gopher blockers with one solo block and eight block assists. Samantha Seliger-Swenson dished out 41 assists and had one solo back and one block assist. Dalianliz Rosado led the passers with 11 digs. Minnesota outhit Wisconsin .323-.050, 45-32 kills, and out-blocked them 14-3.
Minnesota was very impressive; they made Wisconsin look like they didn’t belong in top ten, in their own building. While the passing was good, Minnesota dictated the match from the net. The Gophers were able to execute their quick offense and the Badgers could not keep up. Coming into the match the Badgers were the 8th best blocking team in the country. Wednesday night they couldn’t even get in front of the hitters, let alone press over the net. Defensively the Gopher block was everywhere. Great reads made by the Gophers and their athleticism kept the Badger hitters from getting into any sort of rhythm.
The Gophers are back in action Saturday at #14 Michigan State at 7:00 CT.