Stanford made things hard for Minnesota all night long as they bested the Gophers in four sets. The Gophers struggled all night to hit around the large, looming Cardinal block creating lots of errors. Passing was also inconsistent exacerbating issues for the Gophers. Props also to Stanford’s four freshman starters who played well beyond their years under the leadership of redshirt senior Inky Ajanaku.
Stanford went on a run in the early going and Minnesota was never able to get over the hump despite battling back. Up 8-6 Minnesota’s lead disappeared as the Cardinal ran off six in a row with the help of some stout defense at the net and the backline. Minnesota was able to respond to tie it at 13-all but never took the lead as they kept the margin within two the rest of the way. The Gophers tied the score late at 21, 22, 23, and 24 but each time Stanford was able to sideout. Facing set point Minnesota got a first ball kill cross court from Alexis Hart. Stanford answered with a tip kill then posted their fifth block of the set to win 26-24.
Minnesota looked better early in the second set but then Stanford got on a roll scoring 13 of 18 points to go in front 19-14. The Gopher offense was not in top form. Samantha Seliger-Swenson wasn’t able to locate the ball as precisely as we have to come to expect from her and the hitters continued to struggle against the Stanford block. Minnesota went on to lose 25-19; the Gophers hit -.024.
Timely runs propelled Minnesota to the 25-22 win the third set. The first of which was a five point run to go up 11-9. Later Stanford took back the lead with a little three point run. Minnesota answered with four in a row, including three Stanford errors. The Cardinal again responded with a three point run erasing the deficit tying the set at 18. The last tie came at 21-all then the Gophers went on a 4-1 run to clinch the set. Net violations capped the run but also included a free ball kill and a huge block after spectacular saves by Sarah Wilhite and Dalianliz Rosado extended the rally.
Stanford made some adjustments in the fourth set relying on more roll shots and tips and solidified their block as they clinched the match, 25-22. Stanford stretched their lead to five, 14-9, midway through the set. Minnesota started their comeback with a 5-1 run drawing within one, 18-17. Inky Ajanaku stopped Minnesota’s momentum with a kill. The Gophers kept fighting; a 4-1 run, including three blocks helped them tie the score at 21. Again it was Ajanaku who put down a kill for the Cardinal. Fortunate for Minnesota this also rotated her to the back row and out of the game. With Stanford’s best player out of game Minnesota failed to capitalize. First, Alexis Hart sailed a ball cross-court out of bounds. Hannah Tapp slammed one down line to bring the margin back to one, 23-22. The Gophers struggled with ball control on the final points first being forced to send over a free ball that Stanford scored on. On the ensuing point, Minnesota shanked the serve receive sending it over the net where Stanford directed it straight down for an overpass kill.
Minnesota was outhit .188-.149 and out-blocked 18-13.5. Sarah Wilhite tallied one final double-double with 25 kills and 13 digs to go with three locks. Alexis Hart managed 11 kills and four blocks. Molly Lohman was the only Gopher hitter to hit above .300 with an error-less performance, 8 kills on 19 swings to go with 8 blocks. Paige Tapp posted five blocks and Hannah tallied four in their final match. Samantha Seliger-Swenson also posted a double-double with 50 assists and 11 digs. Dalianliz Rosado led the passers with 16 digs. Alyssa Goehner and Katie Schau also reached double digit digs with 14 and 12 respectively.