Minnesota (17-4, 9-3) helped themselves out dealing Penn State their third consecutive loss. Against Rutgers, Coach Hugh McCutcheon was able to rest some starters and get some reserves playing time.
Minnesota played a spectacular match dominating Penn State Saturday night. Much like the win in Madison over the Badgers, the Gophers controlled the net against the Nittany Lions. Minnesota out blocked Penn State 12-4 and out hit them .374-.195, keeping them well below their season average, .316. The Gophers were the aggressor all night, never letting Penn State get comfortable. As good as Minnesota was at the front line, their back row defense was equally impressive, delivering great saves to extend rallies.
Coming off back-to-back losses, Penn State, looking to spark some offense, went with a different setter in the first set. It didn’t end up helping. The teams were even through the middle of the set, then Minnesota blew it open. Down 11-9, Minnesota scored 11 of the next 13 to go up 20-13. A Penn State service error started a 5-0 run. Katie Schau got the Gophers the lead with an ace, 12-11. Hannah Tapp started another run, putting down a kill on a free ball opportunity during a long rally. The run was capped off with blocks from Samantha Seliger-Swenson and Sarah Wilhite. Once Minnesota pushed their lead to seven, Penn State was only able to get within five. Alexis Hart got the Gophers to set point after Seliger-Swenson made a nice save picking up the Penn State setter dump. Two points later Hart ended with set with another kill, Minnesota won 25-17. Minnesota hit .448.
Minnesota never trailed in the second set. The Gophers jumped out to a 4-0 lead as they were a wall at the net. First Paige Tapp denied Penn State’s tip, then Molly Lohman hammered down an overpass kill. Next the two combined to get the block on Penn State’s back row attack. The last point in the run was a Seliger-Swenson ace that trickled over the net. Penn State never got closer than three the rest of the way, as the Gophers went on to win 25-20. Midway through the set the teams combined for an epic, nearly minute long rally. During the rally Dalianliz Rosado had two pancake digs to keep the Gophers alive. Eventually Alexis Hart was able to put one down the line to put Minnesota up 15-11.
Penn State scored first in the third set, but didn’t hold the lead for long. Lohman put down a kill then combined with H. Tapp on a block to put Minnesota in front 4-2. Penn State would draw within one, but was never able to tie the score as Minnesota was able to answer every time. The Gophers stretched their lead to five, 16-11, with a 6-2 run. Later back to back blocks from the tandem of P. Tapp and Lohman increased the lead to six, 19-13. From there the teams traded points, til P. Tapp and Lohman again got the block on match point to win, 25-18.
Sarah Wilhite led the Gophers with 15 kills, .329 hitting percentage, eight digs, and four blocks. Neither Hannah Tapp nor Molly Lohman committed a hitting error. Hannah had 10 kills, hitting .556 to go with four blocks. Lohman had eight kills on nine attempts and seven blocks. Paige Tapp also had seven blocks. Samantha Seliger-Swenson had 37 assists. Katie Schau led the defense with 16 digs. Dalianliz Rosado added 13 digs.
Minnesota was able to neutralize every Penn State hitter but Simone Lee; which was a sound strategy and worked well for the Gophers. Lee had 17 kills and hit .306 to lead the Nittany Lions. The rest of the team combined to hit only .107.
Minnesota had little trouble defeating Rutgers Friday evening. Seliger-Swenson had two aces during a 4-0 run in the first set that extended the Gopher lead to seven, 16-9. Minnesota went on to win 25-17. The Gophers broke it open in the middle of the second set with a 11-3 run, going on to win 25-14. Up 15-12 in the third set, Minnesota buckled down only letting Rutgers score three more points as they won 25-15.
Minnesota hit .352 and limited Rutgers to only a .103 effort. Sarah Wilhite and Paige Tapp both had 11 kills and hit over .300. Molly Lohman had nine kills on 13 attempts, no errors. Lohman and P. Tapp both had four blocks. Seliger-Swenson put up 38 assists and served four aces. Rosado led the back row with 13 digs.
Reserves Taylor Morgan, Erica Handley, Brittany McLean and Margaret Eggert all saw action against the Scarlet Knights.