Minnesota avoided the fate of many other top ranked teams last weekend and won both their matches in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge. The weekend started with a convincing win over No.11 North Carolina who was outclassed pretty much the whole match. Against Louisville the Gophers started slow but were able to get the win in four sets.
The No. 4 Gophers looked head and shoulders better than No. 11 North Carolina. The Tar Heels struggled with errors all match long while Minnesota executed well in all phases of the game.
Minnesota started the first set with an early 7-3 advantage. They grew their lead steadily as the set wore on. A triple block later in the set from the freshman trio of Jasmyn Martin, Regan Pittman, and Stephanie Samedy pushed the lead to six, 16-10. Samedy had no trouble in her first collegiate action putting away six kills as the Gophers won 25-16 while hitting .364.
Big runs early put Minnesota in control as they won the second set 25-7 as North Carolina struggled to find the court hitting -.242. The Gophers went up 8-1 early then grew their lead with a 6-0 run that put them up 15-3.
North Carolina played better in the final set but it was not enough to slow down the Gophers. The score was close early; the Tar Heels even held the lead around the midpoint of the set, 14-11. Minnesota managed to tie the set at 17 and then 18 before pulling away for good; the Gophers won 25-20.
Stephanie Samedy led the Gophers with a great all-around performance, including a double-double; 14 kills, 12 digs, four blocks and an ace. Alexis Hart posted nine kills. Regan Pittman was solid hitting .400, tallying five kills and three blocks. Dalianliz Rosado led the passers with 14 digs. Samantha Seliger-Swenson dished out 35 assists to go with three aces. As a team Minnesota hit .281 and posted 11.5 blocks. North Carolina hit a dismal .009 to go with 5.5 blocks.
Louisville was tougher than many expected and as such the Gophers struggled early.
The Cardinals jumped out to a 7-0 lead which forced Minnesota to call a timeout. From then on the Gophers were playing catch-up. Twice, Minnesota drew within one, 15-14 and 21-20. The second time Minnesota derailed themselves with a hitting error. Louisville then closed the set with back-to-back kills winning 25-20.
The second set was close early. The Gophers broke a 7-all tie with a 6-1 run that put them in front for good; Louisville cut the margin to five twice but never closer as Minnesota won 25-18. Regan Pittman was key for the Gophers putting down five kills as the team rebounded from set one.
The Gopher offense really clicked in the third set as they hit .355, winning 25-18. Similar to the second set an 8-1 run early was the difference in the set as Minnesota went out in front 14-7.
The final set was closely contested; the teams traded points and little runs back and forth all the way til a 17-17 tie. The Gophers broke the tie with a 3-0 run that was capped off with consecutive Samedy kills. Louisville was able to draw within one, 20-19, then fell apart committing three errors. Pittman helped close the match with a kill and combined with Taylor Morgan for a block to seal the 25-20 win.
Samedy led the Gophers again with another double-double, 17 kills and 15 digs, while hitting .342. Alexis Hart was also in double figures with 15 kills. Regan Pittman had a great match, 10 kills on 25 swings, no errors to go with five blocks. Samantha Seliger-Swenson tallied 43 assists, nine digs, and three blocks. Dalianliz Rosado anchored the back row with 17 digs. The Gophers hit .261 while Louisville managed .143. Defensively Minnesota had a slight advantage at the net out blocking the Cardinals 8-6.
Big Ten Honors
Stephanie Samedy was recognized by the conference for her excellent play this opening weekend after tallying two double-doubles. Samedy and Wisconsin’s middle blocker Dana Rettke were named Co-Freshman and Co-Players of the Week. Samedy averaged 4.43 kills/set, 3.86 digs/set, 0.71 blocks/set and hit .315.
After a strong performance and a couple top five teams being upset Minnesota rose from No. 4 in last weeks poll to No. 2 this week.
#1 Stanford (53)
#2 Minnesota (3)
#3 Florida (7)
#4 Texas (1)
#5 Penn State
The Big Ten still boasts eight teams in the top 25; #6 Wisconsin, #12 Nebraska, #19 Michigan, #20 Ohio State, #21 Purdue, and #23 Michigan State.
The Gophers will be back in action this weekend, at home, at The Pav, as they host the Diet Coke Classic. Their first match will be Friday evening at 7:00 against West Virginia. They’ll be back on the court Saturday morning at 10:00 against UTSA. They’ll cap the weekend off with a match at 7:00 against Tennessee.