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Gophers Best North Dakota in Three

For the second year in a row Minnesota swept UND to advance into the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Gophers (30-8) got a key contribution from an unlikely source as they swept North Dakota. Sophomore Brittany McClean, who had only played nine sets in two years, came in at outside hitter and dominated from the left pin putting away 13 kills, hitting .355. For the most part Minnesota controlled by the match but came from behind in the third set to clinch the match; 25-20, 25-15, 25-21.

McLean learned she would replace Jasmyn Martin in the lineup ahead of time and relied on her teammates to help her out work through her nerves, “I guess at first, I was pretty nervous throughout the day. But I have my teammates to help calm me down, especially a couple on the sidelines who just take me aback and say, like, “Breathe.” One thing our team that we do a lot is just focusing on the breaths. That really helped me out a lot tonight.”

For most of the first set both teams were feeling each other out as neither was able to go in front by more than three. Up 17-16, Minnesota put together a 7-1 run to get to set point. Over the run the Gophers got four kills from Stephanie Samedy and two aces from Molly Lohman as UND struggled in serve reception. North Dakota sided out with a block and scored two more points before Samedy capped the set with one final kill, 25-20.

Minnesota broke the second set open with an 8-1 run as North Dakota struggled to string together two points in succession, committing three service errors early. The Gophers got three kills from Alexis Hart over the stretch. From there Minnesota steadily grew their lead as they got three blocks over the back half of the set. Molly Lohman finished the set of with two kills, 25-15.

Minnesota trailed for the first half of the third set. North Dakota used back-to-back blocks and couple Gopher errors to go in front 8-4. After a timeout, the Gophers quickly tied the set at 10. A Lohman ace put Minnesota in front 12-11. It was short-lived as UND retook the lead two points later but Minnesota answered to go in front for good, 14-13 with back to back kills from Regan Pittman. The Gophers grew their lead as they sided-out on each UND server. McLean put away two consecutive kills to get Minnesota to match and point and after misfiring on an overpass kill Pittman put away a first ball kill, 25-21.

Alexis Hart was the only other hitter in double figures for Minnesota with 10, hittin .304.Stephane Samedy and Molly Lohman putaway nine kills; Lohman hit .412 and led at the service line with three aces. Regan Pittman led at the net with four blocks.

North Dakota was very intentional about hitting toward Samantha Seliger-Swenson but the Gophers didn’t miss a beat. Seliger-Swenson finished with 30 assists and 20 digs and Dalianliz Rosado tallied 15 digs and 11 assists.

Minnesota hit .260 as a team and limited UND to .140. North Dakota though did out-block the Gophers 9-4.

The Fighting Hawks struggled with a ball control all night and never got Faith Dooley involved in their offense. Dooley who usually averages three kills a set finished with only 10 attempts, four kills, as Minnesota was able to sideout effectively when Dooley was in. She did impact the game defensively though with seven blocks.

Jordan Vail led UND with nine kills. Sydney Griffin put up 26 assists. Tamara Merseli led their defense with 10 digs.

Gophers will take on UNI who swept Louisville at 8:00 on BTN.

UNI Preview

Northern Iowa is 27-8 on the season after sweeping Louisville to advance. The Panthers earned an at-large bid this year after four upset wins over ranked teams; Missouri, USC, Iowa State and Nebraska. Middle blocker, Piper Thomas leads the Panthers and they make a concerted effort to get her the ball whenever and wherever they can. Against Louisville she had 18 kills on 32 swings with two errors, .500. Northern Iowa is able to get the ball so often because of their ball control; expect a battle tonight from two fundamentally solid teams.

Key Players

Jr. 5’10 OH 4 Bri Weber- 3.27 K/S, 3.89 D/S, 0.25 SA/S

Jr. 5’7 L 6 Kendyl Sorge- 4.74 D/S

Sr. 5’11 S 10 Heather Hook- 1.08 K/S .298, 11.70 A/S (8), 2.67 D/S

So. 5’11 OH 11 Karlie Taylor- 3.83 K/S, 3.59 D/S

Fr. 6’1 OH 16 Jaydlin Seehase- 2.06 K/S

Jr. 6’1 MB 17 Piper Thomas- 3.99 K/S (46), .362, 0.92 B/S

Rs. Fr. 5’7 DS 20 Taylor Hedges- 2.90 D/S

UNI Team Stats

Comparison Kills/Set Hitting % Assists/Set Aces/Set Digs/Set Blocks/Set
Comparison Kills/Set Hitting % Assists/Set Aces/Set Digs/Set Blocks/Set
Northern Iowa 15.28 (1) .243 14.20 (2) 1.02 19.64 (2) 1.90
Opponents 12.17 .172 (46) 11.61 0.77 17.87 1.88