No. 4 Penn State (9-2, 0-1) was without starting outside hitter Nia Reed Wednesday night but it’s hard to say how much of a difference she would have made as No. 7 Minnesota (7-2, 1-0) repeatedly forced Penn State to play out of system and defended spectacularly in the three set victory; 25-22, 25-21, 25-19.
Minnesota while not perfect by any means was the sharper team throughout, out-hitting Penn State .262-.168. The Gophers also did a nice job hitting around the block, besting the Nittany Lions in the category 9-5.5 which is well below their 3.4 blocks per seat average. Minnesota also dominated the digs category 71-58.
Stephanie Samedy had a big match for the Gophers tallying 14 kills, one ace, 10 digs, and five blocks. Adanna Rollins was perhaps equally impressive playing in her first conference match hitting .303 to go with 13 kills and 11 digs.
Samantha Seliger-Swenson also posted a double-double 40 assists and a team-leading 16 digs. Lauren Barnes and CC McGraw finished with 13 and 12 digs respectively; Barnes also had an ace. Middles, Taylor Morgan and Regan Pittman, both had four blocks.
Stephanie Samedy did it all for the Gophers in set one as she helped the Gophers make one last run to go in front for good. Down 19-17, Minnesota ran off a six point run which included two kills of her six kills in the set and a solo block from Samedy. CC McGraw also got a kill in the run on a crazy play as her second contact sailed over the net and onto the unsuspecting Penn State block who misplayed it giving Minnesota the point. Penn State late drew within two, 23-21, after a double contact by Taylor Morgan on an out of system ball but Morgan was able to redeem herself. Morgan combined with Alexis Hart for a block then put down a kill on set point to give the Gophers the win 25-22.
The Gophers took the lead in the middle of the second and hung on to win 25-21. Down 12-11, Minnesota got back-to-back overpass kills by Adanna Rollins and Regan Pittman to spark a 4-0 run to pull in front. Penn State drew within one twice but Minnesota was able to answer each time. After a mini 3-0 Penn State run drew the Nittany Lions within two, 23-21, the Gophers were able to close the set out with two kills in transition the last of which was Rollins’ fifth kill of the set.
Minnesota raced out to a 9-2 lead in set three but were never able to shut the door on Penn State as the Gophers committed eight errors. With Minnesota up 17-10, Penn State put together a 4-1 up, to cut the lead to four, which was close as they’d get the rest of the set but it was enough to force Coach McCutcheon to call a timeout. Regan Pittman got a kill for the Gophers out of the timeout. The teams then traded points til Pittman closed the set out with two kills, the first in transition which ended a long rally and an overpass kill to clinch the match, 25-19.
Minnesota will be back in action Saturday night in the Pav at 6:30 P.M. against Maryland (10-3, 1-0). The Terps won their conference opener in three sets over Rutgers.