The Gophers closed out the regular season with four matches with ranked foes. Each match went to a decisive fifth set and each time the Gophers answered the bell. Seniors Paige Tapp and Sarah Wilhite carried the offense on Senior Night against #3 Wisconsin.
Against the Badgers the teams split the first two sets, then the Badgers dominated Minnesota in the third set. Needing to rebound from disastrous hitting in the third set Minnesota lit it up with 20 kills in route a win in the fourth set. The Gophers kept their foot on the gas winning the fifth 15-8.
Minnesota picked up where they left off in the fifth set. Sarah Wilhite didn’t slow down from the fourth set putting down five kills as Minnesota went in front 5-2. Minnesota kept pouring it on with a 5-0 run fueled by Paige Tapp. Paige started the run with kill from the right side, served up an ace, and capped off the run with a kill out of the back row that put the Gophers in front 11-4. The teams then traded points as Minnesota went on to win 15-8. Minnesota hit .632 during the set with zero hitting errors and 12 kills on 19 swings.
The first set was closely contested due in large part to Paige Tapp and a handful of Wisconsin service errors (5); otherwise not much went well for Minnesota. Paige was the Gopher offense in the first set with 8 of the team’s 11 kills as the team hit .103. Late in the set Paige put down kills on three consecutive points to draw Minnesota within one, 23-22. Wisconsin was able sideout on the next point and unfortunately on the ensuing point P Tapp was called in the net on the block attempt giving Wisconsin the win 25-22.
Paige Tapp continued to carry the offense in the second set, but got a little more help from her team as the Gophers won 25-17. Through the course of the set Minnesota’s offense got better and better. The Gophers closed out the set with a 7-0 run which included three P Tapp kills and two from Alexis Hart.
Wisconsin dominated the Gophers in the third set, out hitting them .444-.062. Minnesota struggled in all phases of the game as they dropped the set 25-11.
Down two sets to one Minnesota responded. Sarah Wilhite stepped up for the Gophers putting away 10 kills during the set. Down 6-4 Minnesota put together a 6-1 run to take the lead; the Gophers took advantage of a trio of Badger errors. Minnesota tightened up and limited opportunities for Wisconsin the rest of the way, only surrendering back to back points once. Minnesota won 25-17.
Paige Tapp had a career high 21 kills, hit .594, and matched her a career best for digs, seven, to make for a memorable Senior Night. Sarah Wilhite led the team in kills and digs with 23 kills and 19 digs, and hit .377. Samantha Seliger-Swenson also had a double-double with 51 assists and 16 digs. Dalianliz Rosado finished with 17 digs. Molly Lohman led at the net with eight blocks. Hannah Tapp added three blocks.
After the match the six seniors Erica Handley, Katie Schau, Margaret Eggert, Paige Tapp, Hannah Tapp, and Sarah Wilhite were honored. Coach McCutcheon and several teammates praised the group for their dedication, hard work, and lasting contributions to the program. Fortunately for them the match against Wisconsin was not their last at the Pav as they will get to host matches during the NCAA Tournament.
Tune into the Selection Show at 8:00 CT on ESPNU. At 7:30 CT the top four seeds will announced on the NCAA Volleyball Twitter account.