The No. 3 Gophers (18-2, 12-0) took their show on the road this weekend and gave Michigan State (15-10, 3-9) and No. 12 Michigan (18-5, 7-5) more than they could handle as they swept both schools. The Gophers balanced attack was too much for both squads and against Michigan, they put on an incredible blocking display shutting down one of the conference’s best outside hitters in Carly Skjodt.
Michigan State battled with the Gophers in the first two sets before being overwhelmed in set three as Minnesota won 25-22, 25-23, 25-15. Minnesota outhit the Spartans .311-.196.
In set one with the Spartans, Minnesota saw a 15-11 lead disappear before regrouping late. The Gophers were down 21-20 before closing the set on a 5-1 run. Michigan State fell apart which certainly helped; the run started with a Spartan service error and ended with two hitting errors.
Minnesota got off to a rough start in set two spotting MSU a 4-0 lead after two hitting errors and a Spartan ace. The Spartans hung on to the lead til late. A Stephanie Samedy hitting error kept MSU in front 20-19 then she and the rest of the team regrouped finishing out the set on a 6-3 run. Samedy had three kills over the run while Taylor Morgan added two and Regan Pittman one as the Gophers manufactured their own points this time.
The Gophers cruised in set three as they outhit MSU .480-.091. Minnesota broke it open in the middle of the set with an 8-1 run to go in front 18-10. Minnesota got a kill from Hart, a kill and block from Morgan, and two aces from Lauren Barnes as they otherwise benefitted from Spartan miscues. Alexis Hart had six kills in the set.
Alexis Hart led a trio of Gopher hitters in double figures with 12 kills. Taylor Morgan hit .667 as she put away 11 kills with only one error. Stephanie Samedy had 10. Regan Pittman was the leading blocker with four. Samantha Seliger-Swenson put up 39 assists to go with two aces. Lauren Barnes had three aces while CC McGraw led the defense with 15 digs.
Minnesota’s block was dialed in against Michigan as they got the sweep 27-25, 25-10, 25-20, tallying 14 blocks. The Gopher block was key in slowing down Carly Skjodt. Skjodt finished with only 8 kills after coming into the weekend leading the conference with 4.5 kills per set in conference play; she had 27 kills the night before against Wisconsin in their five-set loss.
After surrendering a five-point run that put Michigan in front 20-16 Minnesota answered with four straight points to tie the set at 20. The teams then traded the next 10 points including two Michigan set points. On the first set point Minnesota got a block by Samedy and Morgan on Skjodt and then an Adanna Rollins kill on the second set point. The Gophers then closed the set out with an ace from Samedy and another block on Skjodt this time by Pittman and Jasmyn Martin.
The Gophers got six blocks in set two as they were in control from start to finish as they hit .462. Minnesota was already up 10-6 when they blew it open with a seven-point run fueled by Hart and Pittman. Pittman had two kills and two blocks, one with Hart and another solo, while Hart added three kills.
Set three looked like it would go much the same as set two but Michigan was able to make it respectable before it was all said and done. Minnesota’s middles were key in an 8-1 run that put the Gophers up 15-6; Pittman and Morgan both had two kills and a block in the run. Michigan would draw within four, 21-17 before the set ended with a series of sideouts. The night before Michigan successfully rallied from down 21-17 in set four to force a decisive fifth set with Wisconsin.
While Minnesota did keep Skjodt in check, Paige Jones posted a match-high 18 kills.
The Gophers again demonstrated their balance as Taylor Morgan’s 13 kills and .632 hitting led four hitters in double figures who all hit .300+; Alexis Hart 12 kills, .345 hitting, Regan Pittman 10, .500, Stephanie Samedy 10, .391. Pittman also posted eight blocks on the night including two solo efforts. Morgan had five blocks and Adanna Rollins had four. Samantha Seliger-Swenson put up 40 assists to go with 10 digs. CC McGraw had 24 digs to lead the defense.
In other action around the Big Ten No. 6 Illinois beat No. 9 Nebraska in four sets in Lincoln. Number 17 Purdue also picked up a big road win besting No. 4 Penn State in five sets. Illinois, Penn State, and Wisconsin are all now tied for second in the conference with 9-3 records.
Minnesota will face the Badgers Wednesday night in Madison before taking on Michigan State at home Saturday night; both matches will be on BTN.