The Gophers (14-3, 6-2) went into East Lansing and took a quick set one win and looked to be on a roll, but the Spartans (16-4, 5-3) had other ideas, prevailing in five sets.
Minnesota dug themselves a hole in fifth set and were almost able to climb out, but came up just short, losing 15-13. With the set tied at 6-all, Michigan State went on a 5-0 run that propelled them to the win. Back-to-back kills followed by a solo block, a kill, and ace gave the Spartans the comfortable lead. Minnesota cut it the margin to two after a Sarah Wilhite kill and a couple of MSU hitting errors, the run might’ve continued but Samantha Seliger-Swenson missed her serve. The Gophers got a kill from Hannah Tapp and a Spartan hitting error got them within one, 12-11. Unfortunately from there Minnesota only traded points with MSU never getting back-to-back points falling, 15-13.
The Gophers started quick dominating Michigan State, 25-12, in set one. A 3-0 lead ballooned to 9-3 as five Gophers combined for seven kills. Minnesota maintained the margin throughout, then capped off the set with a 6-0 run. Minnesota hit .483 to MSU’s .059 effort.
Michigan State quickly put a sweep in doubt in the second set. The Spartans led wire to wire. Up 6-5 MSU went on a 6-1 run; three kills, a Gopher hitting error, an ace and a block. Michigan State led by as many as nine before a short-lived comeback effort cut the margin to three, 23-20. Minnesota stopped themselves with a hitting error, and got blocked on set point losing the set 25-20.
Minnesota led for most of the third set but the Spartans finished strong taking the set 25-21. The Gophers got a good start but couldn’t carry the momentum through the set. A 7-2 lead disappeared as the Spartans fought back and tied the set at 11. Minnesota kept the lead, losing it briefly as MSU strung together three points, 15-16. The Gophers answered; two Alexis Hart kills and a Dalianliz Rosado ace helped put Minnesota up 19-16. Sparty wasn’t done though, they tied the set at 21 and finished it off with four more consecutive points.
Down a set Minnesota battled to force a fifth set. Neither team could seize any momentum as the lead change hands five times in the first half of the set. Backs against the wall Minnesota took control. With the score tied at 13 the Gophers took the lead and outscored MSU 12-5 to win the set 25-18.
Sarah Wilhite led the Gophers with a double-double, 20 kills and 19 digs. Alexis Hart hit .303 producing 15 kills. Hannah Tapp added 13 kills and .321 hitting. Samantha Seliger-Swenson also had a double-double 50 assists and 13 digs. Dalianliz Rosado also had 13 digs to go with two aces. Gophers had the advantage in hitting, .268-.201 and backrow defense, 65-56 digs, but were out-blocked 15-10 by Michigan State. Sparty also had the advantage at the service line with eight aces to five from Minnesota.
Minnesota looked prime to take over the #1 ranking after sweeping then #1 Wisconsin in Madison, but this loss undoes that. Gophers will likely stay in top five.
Gophers will be back in action this weekend on the road at Iowa Friday night and at Nebraska Sunday afternoon; both matches will be on BTN.