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Minnesota Volleyball: Gophers Sweep Hawaii to Advance to Regionals

Minnesota won the rematch of last year’s regional final with Hawaii. The Rainbow Wahine were dealt a crushing blow with the early loss of All-American Nikki Taylor in the first set and were never able to pose a serious threat to Minnesota.

Minnesota (27-4) got the sweep over a good Hawaii team (23-6) Saturday night. Minnesota played masterfully, but also faced an undermanned Hawaii squad. Hawaii got put behind the eight ball early when senior All-American Nikki Taylor went down with an ankle injury, three points into the first set, and had to be helped off the floor. Taylor eventually returned to the bench on crutches during the second set. Hawaii used a handful of different lineups but were never able to make up for the loss of Taylor.

In the first set, Minnesota broke a three-all tie with a six point run on Paige Tapp’s serve. Paige served up consecutive aces and on the next serve Hawaii overpassed it and Alexis Hart was able to slam it home. Hawaii’s struggles continued as Minnesota started picking up steam eventually extending their lead to 10, 21-11. Dalianliz Rosado was able to finish off the set, 25-17, with an ace that caught the tape and dropped over.

The Minnesota offense was rolling early. After surrendering the first two points Minnesota went on a 10-3 run including three kills by Molly Lohman. The Gophers passed well and Samantha Seliger-Swenson did a good job distributing the ball. Minnesota grew their lead to eight, but Hawaii was able to cut it to four as Annie Mitchem settled into a rhythm for the Bows. The Gophers answered with their own 5-1 run including two kills on free ball opportunities. Minnesota went on to win 25-17.

Hawaii came out with new lineup in third set shifting Mitchem from outside to right side and it worked early as the teams played to a 9-9 tie. Minnesota then ran off a 10-1 run, including eight kills, as the Gophers dialed up the passing the and hitting getting putting the ball away in transition. McKenna Granato struck with four kills and the Rainbow Wahine started gaining a little momentum. A costly net violation stalled the Bows, but they still managed to cut the margin to four, 21-17 after the Gophers wasted a free ball opportunity sailing the ball long. Minnesota was able to close the set though tooling the block for their last four points, winning 25-19.

Sarah Wilhite led Minnesota with another double-double, 13 kills and 11 digs, hitting .333. Paige Tapp and Molly Lohman both finished with 10 kills and hit north of .500, .625 and .533 respectively. Lohman also was the leading blocker with four; Hannah Tapp posted three. Samantha Seliger-Swenson put up 41 assists. Dalianliz Rosado had 17 digs to go with two aces. Paige Tapp also had two aces. Minnesota hit .348 to Hawaii’s .194 and out-blocked the Bows 6-4.

Hawaii was led by Annie Mitchem’s 13 kills. McKenna Granato tallied 11 kills. Setter Norene Iosia dished out 27 assists and had three blocks. Libero Savannah Kahakai had 17 digs.

Minnesota will host the regionals next weekend. The Gophers will face the No. 15 seed Missouri Tigers. Missouri swept the MAC Champion Northern Illinois Huskies in first round then bested Purdue in four sets to advance to the regionals. Also playing at the Pav in the other semifinal will be No. 10 UCLA and No. 7 North Carolina.