Minnesota was victim to a deep Big Ten conference Sunday afternoon. After getting a four-set win over Michigan the Gophers got swept by a veteran, tough-serving Spartan squad.
The Gophers were far from the only home Big Ten team to be upset this weekend. Before coming to Minneapolis MSU beat No. 5 Wisconsin in five sets. The No. 14 Nebraska Huskers swept No. 2 Penn State in Happy Valley. Unranked Ohio State beat No. 13 Purdue on the road in four sets.
Minnesota struggled all match long to handle Michigan State’s serve. The Spartans served up six aces, put away three overpass kills, and otherwise disrupted Minnesota’s offense as they struggled to pass to target.
After the match Coach McCutcheon mentioned how the passing struggles compounded some weaknesses of the team, "Obviously we like to play fast and when you are off the net it makes it a little more challenging. Our out of system swings need to be a little bit better.”
Minnesota’s passing woes began in first set as they were outscored 17-6 through the middle of the set. A series of runs helped Michigan State turn a four point deficit into a seven point lead. Minnesota was up 7-4 when Holly Tolliver went back to the service line; Tolliver ran off three consecutive aces before the Gophers passed her top-spin serve up and got a kill. The teams traded points before the next Spartan run, as their offense got into a rhythm. Michigan State wasn’t done from the service line up 14-12, Brooke Kranda ran off six points which included two aces and two overpass kills. Minnesota couldn’t get any moment back and dropped the set 25-18.
The Gophers passing issues resurfaced late in the set to doom them as they worked to keep pace with MSU. A 5-1 run early gave Minnesota an early 8-7 lead. Regan Pittman keyed the run with two slide kills and a block with Samantha Seliger-Swenson. Michigan State tied the score multiple times but Minnesota was able to sideout quickly and stay in front down the stretch. Eventually though, Tolliver rotated back to serve after a Spartan kill cut the lead to 21-20. Seliger-Swenson’s dump on the first ball failed to find the floor and the Spartans scored to tie the set. Next point, Minnesota couldn’t handle the serve and MSU slammed home an overpass kill. Michigan State got to set point with a kill and block after making some diving saves to keep the ball up. The Gophers got an extra life after the Sparty setter dumped one right into the tape and Autumn Bailey hit one out on the next play. Bailey redeemed herself, clinching the set for the Spartans, 25-23, on next point, slamming one cross-court.
Before the third set the team spent a little extra time in the locker room and the team only discussion seemed to spark the team to start the third set. Right away Minnesota went up 5-1 as they got three kills from Stephanie Samedy. The Gopher lead grew to nine, 16-7, as the offense kept rolling and they took advantage of some MSU errors. Kranda though got a kill and went back to the service line. Minnesota was able to get the ball up but couldn’t put it away, twice getting blocked and then MSU just kept tooling the Gopher block in transition as Michigan State drew within one, 16-15. Minnesota finally got a first ball kill from Samedy to stop the bleeding but Michigan State had the momentum and Minnesota was on the ropes. Up 19-18, Minnesota surrendered a 6-1 run as they wilted down the stretch, getting blocked, surrendering another ace, and committing errors. The Gophers got a kill and a block before Michigan State capped the match off with a kill, 25-22.
Stephanie Samedy led Minnesota with 11 kills and no errors hitting .407. Molly Lohman led with five blocks; Regan Pittman and Samantha Seliger-Swenson tallied four. Seliger-Swenson put up 32 assists. Dalianliz Rosado had 19 digs. Minnesota was out-hit .282 to .208 but did out-block MSU 10-6.
After the match, McCutcheon praised the fan support over the course of the win streak,"It speaks to some consistency and it speaks to a lot of great fan support. It proves that this is one of the best places to play in the country.”
On Friday night, Michigan put up a lot of fight but ultimately couldn’t hang with the Gophers as Minnesota won in four sets.
Both teams were locked in defensively early in first set as Michigan jumped out the early lead, 4-1. Minnesota was able to answer though with a 5-1 run. Down 6-4, Samedy kicked it off with a kill down the line then served up an ace. It wasn’t til late that Minnesota separated themselves from the Wolverines. Up 18-16, Molly Lohman sparked a 6-1 point run with a kill then teamed up with Alexis Hart and Stephanie Samedy for two blocks before capping the run with another kill. Minnesota went on to win two points later, 25-18. Minnesota had five blocks during the set.
Similar to the first set Minnesota got down early and turned it on late to put away Michigan, 25-18. Minnesota got down 7-4 then tied it only to have Michigan jump out to another three point lead, 12-9. This time when Minnesota answered they took the lead. Lohman started the 5-1 run with a tip kill and kill on a free ball opportunity. Michigan tied the set back up at 15 but Minnesota was able to close it out with six kills, a block and two Michigan errors. The Gophers hit .361.
The Gophers nearly redeemed themselves for a slow start again in the third but the comeback fell just short, falling 25-22. The Gophers were a little sloppy at the start committing three errors and giving up two aces as Michigan went in front 8-3. Things didn’t get better for Minnesota, they drew within two but Michigan kept the pressure on as they ballooned the lead to 19-11. The Gophers though fought back with a 9-1 run getting four kills from Alexis Hart to draw within one. Three points later Seliger-Swenson and Lohman blocked a Michigan tip to tie the set at 21. Michigan then ran off three kills. Hart put one down the front of the block to save the first set point but the Wolverines answered with a first ball kill.
After coming up short in the third and starting every other set slow Minnesota came out on fire in the fourth. The Gophers raced out to a 9-0 lead with the help of only one Michigan error. Hart picked up where she left off in the previous set putting away three consecutive kills, Dalianliz Rosado served up an ace the Gophers got two stuff blocks. For the rest of the set Minnesota could do no wrong and Michigan nothing right. The Gophers won 25-8, hitting .565 to Michigan’s -.111 as Minnesota tallied six blocks.
Alexis Hart led Minnesota with 20 kills, .341 hitting, eight digs and six blocks. Stephanie Samedy posted 13 kills, .294 hitting, 14 digs, and four blocks. Molly Lohman had 10 kills on 19 errorless attempts (.526) to go with a career-high 14 blocks. Samantha Seliger-Swenson put up 51 assists to with four blocks. Dalianliz Rosado led the passers with 18 digs to go with three aces. Lauren Barnes pulled up 12 digs. The team hit .336, as all hitters hit over .290. They held Michigan to .156 hitting on account of the 17 blocks they registered; Michigan had seven blocks.
Minnesota only fell two spots in this week’s AVCA rankings to No. 3
- Florida (58)
- Stanford (4)
T-3. Minnesota (1)
T-3. Penn State (1)
Big Ten Teams: #7 Wisconsin, #8 Nebraska, #16 Michigan State, #19 Purdue, #23 Michigan. Receiving Votes: Ohio State, and Illinois.