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Minnesota Volleyball Dispatches Wisconsin in Four Sets

The No.5 Gophers (19-2, 8-2) dropped the first set to No. 9 Wisconsin (15-5, 5-5) but took next three in the battle of two of the Big Ten’s top teams.

“It was a couple of heavyweights going to toe to toe,” was how Coach Hugh McCutcheon characterized the match after his team prevailed three sets to one. The sold out crowd a Maturi Pavilion enjoyed quite the show. Both teams made spectacular defensive plays over and over and crushed the ball offensively. The Gophers dropped the first set 21-25 but picked up the next three 25-18, 25-21, 25-22 to get the win.

Through the first half of the set the lead changed hands three times the last time to the Badgers. Wisconsin put together a 5-1 run to pull in front 13-11. Minnesota used another three point run to tie the set at 16 as the Gophers got three kills in transition. Wisconsin was able to answer with a kill, same for the next two times Minnesota tied the score as the teams traded points. When the Badgers broke a 18-all tie it was the beginning of a 6-1 run. Over the stretch Minnesota’s passing was not as crisp and the Badgers went for broke with great defense and aggressive offense. Minnesota saved two set points before falling 25-21; the Badgers hit .341.

In the second set Minnesota cleaned up their passing issues and in turn put pressure on the Badgers. Down 7-5, Wisconsin committed a net violation which sent Samantha Seliger-Swenson back to the service line and began a 7-0 run. Seliger-Swenson put up tough serves, including one ace, that threw off Wisconsin’s offense as they committed three hitting errors including a Minnesota block which was in addition to another net violation. Wisconsin eventually cut Minnesota’s lead to two, 16-14, as they sided-out on each Gopher server. Wisconsin missed their next serve which sparked a 6-1 Gopher run which included three Alexis Hart kills. The teams split the next six points as Minnesota won 25-18. Hart had nine kills and no errors during the set.

Similar to the second set the Gophers put together a big run then held off Wisconsin to finish off the set. A 4-0 Badger run gave them a 9-5 advantage. Minnesota began chipping away at the lead with a 5-1 run that tied the set. Four points later Minnesota tied the set for the last time with a Stephanie Samedy first ball kill. This was the beginning of a 8-2 Minnesota run that included two kills each from Jasmyn Martin and Regan Pittman. The Gophers took advantage of Badger errors and multiple free balls as Wisconsin struggled to pass. Wisconsin though kept playing aggressive but Minnesota didn’t flinch, winning the set 25-21. Minnesota was able to weather nine kills from Wisconsin’s Dana Rettke to get the win.

Minnesota came out ready to play in the fourth set racing out to a 9-3 lead getting two kills each from Molly Lohman, Regan Pittman, and Hart. Pittman punctuated the run off with a thunderous overpass kill that led directly to a Wisconsin timeout. Things balanced out and Wisconsin was eventually able to tie the set at 16. Two unforced errors from Wisconsin though gave Minnesota some breathing room. The Gophers stayed in front as they answered each Wisconsin rally. Minnesota failed to convert their first match point but on the second Seliger-Swenson took a great pass from Alyssa Goehner and dumped it into the middle of the court to clinch the match, 25-22.

Dana Rettke led Wisconsin with 22 kills on 34 swings, .647 hitting. Sydney Hilley put up 52 assists. Tiffany Clarke and Tionna Williams led the Badger defense with 21 digs and six blocks respectively. The Badgers hit .189 as a team and tallied 10 blocks.

After the match Coach Hugh McCutcheon praised Dana Rettke and commented how tough it was to defend against her, “She was great. You know it was a really special performance by her. We were trying to get in good spots and trying to stop her, but she was getting hers so we had to try to make up the difference other places.”

Alexis Hart led Minnesota with 23 kills, hitting .367. Stephanie Samedy and Jasmyn Martin also reached double figures in kills with 11 and 10 respectively. Samantha Seliger-Swenson posted 50 assists. Samedy had 20 digs to round out the double-double. Dalianliz Rosado had 18 digs. Molly Lohman put up six blocks to lead the Gophers. The team hit .240 and had 10 blocks.

McCutcheon liked what he saw from his time not getting discouraged by some fluke plays and little runs, “Their composure, that ability, to ‘Hey okay we made a few mistakes, all right, but we’re going to be okay.’ That belief is a really important thing in a team.”

The Gophers will be back in the Pav Wednesday night at 8:00 CT to take on Illinois on BTN.