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USC Sweeps Gopher Volleyball Ending Minnesota’s Tourney Run

No. 7 Minnesota could not get on track as No. 10 USC executed their game plan to perfection, especially from the service line.

Southern California got big play from key players and took care of business otherwise forcing Minnesota to play out of system for a lot of the match. The Gophers struggled with serve receive all night long as the tough serving Trojans tallied six aces and only one error. Minnesota fell 25- 23, 28-26, 25-16, ending their season with a 28-6 record.

The play of freshman, Brooke Botkin, who came in the match averaging less than two kills a set and hitting .174 was key for USC. She put away 14 kills, 11 in the first two sets with only one error, while hitting .344 on the match; neither are career highs but it was clear Minnesota didn’t know how to defend her. All-Pac-12 performer, Khalia Lanier, caused even bigger problems for Minnesota tallying 20 kills, hitting .280.

Minnesota outhit USC .244 to .149 in first set as the teams were fairly evenly matched otherwise. Early the teams traded runs then settled in as neither team could win more than two points in a row. The Trojans were the first to stretch the lead to three going up 20-17 with an ace. Down 22-19, Minnesota made one last surge. Back-to-back kills from Stephanie Samedy and a block from Molly Lohman and Brittany McLean tied the set. USC got a kill from Lanier who then misfired on set point to give Minnesota an extra life. The Gophers put up a tough serve but USC got an out of system first ball kill to clinch the set 25-23.

Over the second set the teams traded runs back and forth with USC striking last. Minnesota seemed to be in good position late, up 21-20 but USC was able to answer with a 4-1 run to get to set point. Regan Pittman came up big for Minnesota with two kills and a USC error to give the Gophers a set point. McCutcheon put Taylor Morgan in to block for Samantha Seliger-Swenson and it backfired on offense as Alexis Hart could not put the bump set off the net from Dalianliz Rosado into play. A kill from Botkin got USC to set point which Minnesota was able to answer with a kill from Stephanie Samedy, but the Trojans finished the match with consecutive kills from Botkin and Lanier, winning 28-26.

As close as the first two sets were the third was not. USC raced out to a 10-5 lead forcing a Minnesota timeout as they got six kills and three blocks, two solo, in the early goings. Minnesota got a kill, block, and USC error to cut the margin to two but that was as close as the Gophers got for the rest of the set. USC immediately answered with three point to go back up five. If it wasn’t already clear it was not Minnesota’s night, down 15-11 USC put an overpass swing into the tape, stabbed at it keep it alive then the libero roll shot it into the tape and crawled over to drop on Minnesota’s side. The final score was 25-16.

Brittany Abercrombie was another top performer for the Trojans putting away 11 kills, hitting .286. Reni Meyer-Whalley put up 27 assists and Cindy Marina tallied 17. Middles Danielle Geiger and Jordan Dunn had five and four blocks respectively. Lanier led USC with two aces. Victoria Garrick led USC’s defense with 20 digs.

Stephanie Samedy and Alexis Hart both finished the night with 13 kills hitting .270 and .237 respectively. Molly Lohman was error-less in her last match putting away six kills on 15 swings and led Minnesota with six blocks. Regan Pittman had eight kills to go with five blocks. Samantha Seliger-Swenson put up 36 assists. Dalianliz Rosado had 17 digs to lead the Gophers for the last time.

Minnesota was outhit .256-.221 but out-blocked USC 11-9.