Gophers are riding a six game win streak into their final homestand. Minnesota accomplished what they needed to on their last road trip of the regular season sweeping the Illini and Wildcats. Sarah Wilhite posted two double-doubles and was named the Big Ten’s Player of the Week.
Down 2-0 in the first set Minnesota went on a 5-0 run, getting kills from four different hitters, to take the lead. The Gophers grew their lead through the set, enjoying their biggest lead eight, 20-12. Illinois fought to get back in it, cutting the lead to three, 22-19, with a 4-0 run. Minnesota closed the set out with a 3-0 run with the help of kills from Sarah Wilhite and Paige Tapp and a Willhite-Molly Lohman block.
The second set had a similar score, 25-18, but was tighter throughout. A little 3-0 run put Minnesota in front 13-10. Illinois was able to answer, drawing back within one, 14-13. Minnesota again put together a 3-0 run. From there they never let Illinois win consecutive points as they secured the win.
Like the second set, the two teams were even through the first half of the set. Minnesota used a 4-0 run, featuring two Hannah Tapp kills and a Katie Schau ace, to go up 18-13. The Gophers led by as many as seven, but Illinois battled back cutting the lead to three, 23-20. Illinois stopped their own momentum with a service error and Samantha Seliger-Swenson ended the set with an ace for the Gophers, 25-20.
Sarah Wilhite led Minnesota with a double-double, 12 kills and 10 digs. Alexis Hart also had double digit kills with 10 as she hit .333. Samantha Seliger-Swenson had 40 assists to go with two aces. Dalianliz Rosado pulled up 14 digs. Hannah Tapp led at the net with six blocks. The team had 8 blocks and hit .254. They limited Illinois to a .169 hitting percentage and one four blocks.
The Gophers had an easy time against Northwestern as the closest margin was 11.
Minnesota used a 7-1 run to go up 11-4 early. Northwestern countered with a four points, cutting Minnesota’s lead to three, 11-8. Northwestern kept hanging around, but Minnesota dealt a knockout blow with a 6-0 run to end the set, winning 25-14. The Gophers hit .593 with only one hitting error.
Just like in the first set Minnesota put together a big run to end the set. Minnesota was up 6-1 in the early goings. Northwestern would later cut the margin to two, but never got any closer. Up 17-13 Minnesota finished the set on a 8-0 run. It started with two kills from Wilhite and an Alexis Hart ace. Then Hannah Tapp put down a kill and teamed with Seliger-Swenson for back-to-back blocks to cap the set off, 25-13.
Paige Tapp and Sarah Wilhite started things for Minnesota in the final set as they raced out to a 7-1 lead. Paige had three kills and Wilhite had an ace and kill from the backrow. Northwestern drew within four, 11-7, then fell apart. Minnesota went on a 11-1 run, before finally winning the set 25-10.
Sarah Wilhite led with her second double-double of weekend posting 12 kills and 10 digs to go with four aces and .370 hitting. All three middles hit over .500. Hannah Tapp hit .571 converting nine kills and had three blocks. Molly Lohman hit .636, finishing with eight kills and five blocks. Paige Tapp had no hitting errors ending with a .727 hitting percentage, eight kills, and six blocks. Samantha Seliger-Swenson had 29 assists. Minnesota hit an astounding .475 and had 10 blocks. They simultaneously limited the Wildcats to .097 hitting and one block.
Sarah Wilhite was rewarded for her strong, consistent play this weekend by being named the conference player of the week for the third time this season.
No. 2 Minnesota will be back in action in the Sports Pavilion this weekend to take on #13 Michigan State and #18 Michigan.