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Gophers Best the Badgers in Four

Minnesota dropped the first set before going on to win. Wisconsin got a career-best performance from Dana Rettke but it wasn’t enough. Gophers have now unofficially clinched the Big Ten title.

Jon Johnston

Dana Rettke put on a show in Madison Wednesday night, 30 kills on 50 attempts with only two errors, .560 hitting, but it was not enough for the No. 5 Badgers to get past the No. 3 Gophers. Minnesota (19-2, 13-0) started slow but recovered as they got their offense on track winning 16-25, 25-22, 25-19, 25-19.

Wisconsin (16-5, 9-4) came out and jumped on the Gophers in set one. Great passing in serve receive and transition were key as Sidney Hilley and the Badgers pumped the ball to Rettke. Minnesota was up 10-6 when Wisconsin really started to hit their groove and get Rettke going. Rettke had four kills, three consecutive, and block over a 7-1 run that swung the momentum back to the Badgers.

Minnesota had already had issues finding the court when later in the set they committed four hitting errors in a row as part of 6-0 Wisconsin run that put the set out of reach, 24-15. Minnesota saved one set point before falling. The Gophers hit .075 in the opening set.

Minnesota and Alexis Hart, needed little time turn their fortunes around in the early going of set two. Down 3-2 and with Rettke at the service line, the Gophers were able to take advantage of her absence from the front row with a 10-2 run. Adanna Rollins started it off with a kill and an ace. Hart and company then added seven kills; four by Hart and one each from Regan Pittman, Taylor Morgan and Stephanie Samedy.

Rettke eventually rotated back in and helped her team crawl out of the hole they had dug. A Hart hitting error and back-to-back Badger blocks, the second on Hart drew Wisconsin within one, 17-16. Samantha Seliger-Swenson went right back to Hart who put away a first ball kill. On the following point, Hart teamed with Taylor Morgan for a block as the Gophers were back in front by three.

Wisconsin though made one last push with Rettke back in. After a Molly Haggerty kill, Rettke put away three consecutive points on slide attacks as Wisconsin drew within one, 23-22. Minnesota was finally able to answer with a first ball tip kill by Samedy. Coach Hugh McCutcheon then went to his bench to try slow Rettke down at the net. Jasmyn Martin subbed in for Seliger-Swenson and performed her job perfectly. Pittman and her slowed down Rettke’s slide attack enough for the Gophers to get a dig on it then Lauren Barnes set Martin for the attack which she put down the front of the Badger block clinching the set.

Adanna Rollins was the spark for the Gophers in set three. Neither team led by more than two through the first half of the set as Minnesota was down 13-12 when Rollins caught fire. Rollins showcased her arsenal of shots as she led the Gophers on a 6-0 run. For the first of three kills in a row, she tooled the block. She followed it up with a shot down the line and then a shot to the high hands of the block that sailed along the Badger front row and down for a kill. After a Wisconsin hitting error, she dropped a roll shot into the middle of the Badger defense before one more Badger hitting error capped the run off. From there on Minnesota simply sided out on each Badger serve.

Like set three, set four was close through the first half then Minnesota broke it open. The set was tied at 15-all when the Gophers got a kill each from Morgan and Rollins and two by Samedy to put Minnesota in front by four. Rettke was in the at the time for the Badgers but they couldn’t pass well enough to set her up and when she did score Minnesota was able to side out keeping Wisconsin from mounting a comeback. The Gophers hit .400 in set four.

Adanna Rollins led the balanced Gopher attack with a team-best 17 kills and .395 hitting as she racked up a double-double with 13 digs. Taylor Mogan was one of three other Gophers in double figures with 15 kills, hitting .385 despite a slow start in set one; she also had three blocks. Stephanie Samedy and Alexis Hart both finished with 12 kills while Samedy picked up a double-double with 15 digs. Samantha Seliger-Swenson collected 56 assists on the night. CC McGraw and Lauren Barnes both tallied 16 digs to lead the team.

Minnesota was outhit and out-blocked by Wisconsin .296-.272 and 8-6.

The Gophers are back home at the Pav this weekend. Saturday night at 7:00 they’ll face Michigan State on BTN.