We last checked in on the Gophers after week one of conference play, my apologies I haven’t kept up the last few weeks. Now the Gophers are in second place along with Nebraska and Penn State, so long as they beat Michigan State Sunday afternoon.
Since week one Minnesota has suffered injuries that took setter Kylie Miller and libero CC McGraw out of the lineup. Kylie Miller played against IU in the very first game of conference play then missed the next five matches. Sophomore Bayley McMenimen got the start in her stead. CC McGraw missed one week, the Iowa and Rutgers matches. Freshman Rachel Kilkelly took over the libero spot while CC was out.
Miller was back this weekend but instead of taking over for McMenimen and running the usual 5-1 offense Hugh elected to use a 6-2 system. Airi Miyabe became the sixth hitter for the Gophers. Saturday night against the Illini Miller played the first three sets, but not the fourth. The broadcast showed her sitting in the row behind the bench with earplugs in which made it seem like that was the plan all along, she’d only play three sets as she was seemingly unavailable for the extra set.
We’ve got the recaps to get you caught up starting with this weekend’s matchups.
Illinois 10/19 Recap
Minnesota started hot then had to fight off a resilient Illini squad as they came back late in each set even forcing a fourth before Minnesota was able to clinch the match; 25-16, 25-22, 22-25, 25-23.
Minnesota jumped on the Illini early in set one racing to a 6-0 lead as they forced Illinois into some errors and Stephanie Samedy racked up three kills. Minnesota stayed in control down the stretch; the Gophers posted five blocks during the set.
Minnesota was playing from behind most of the second set. Down 17-12 Minnesota won eight of the next 10 to go up 20-19 as the Illini committed six errors. Illinois tied the set three more times but Minnesota stayed in front finishing the set on a three-point run.
Set three went back and forth. After surrendering a 6-0 run Minnesota regrouped and went back in front although it was short-lived as the teams continued to trade the lead. Minnesota held a 22-20 lead but couldn’t get across the finish line as Illinois ran off five points to extend the match.
Set four nearly slipped away from the Gophers. A 7-1 Illinois run cut Minnesota’s lead to two 21-19. Illinois kept firing away denying Minnesota three times on match point before Regan Pittman ended it for the Gophers 25-23.
Stephanie Samedy led Minnesota with 16 kills and 12 digs for a double-double. Bayley McMenimen tallied 34 assists while Kylie Miller posted 11. Regan Pittman had seven blocks on the night. CC McGraw did her best to let anything near her touch the floor as she racked up 32 digs.
The Gophers were dominant in their three-set dismantling of Northwestern; 25-18, 25-15, 25-22. Minnesota outhit and out-blocked the Wildcats .351-.098 and 9-2 respectively.
Minnesota steadily grew their lead in set one; a 3-0 lead grew to 10-4 and later 15-7. The Gophers held Northwestern to .059 hitting in the opening set.
The Gophers controlled the second set but turned it on late to turn it into a blow-out; Minnesota ended the set on a 10-3 run.
Set three was only tight late. Backs against the wall Northwestern saved four match points before Samedy put one away to clinch the match, 25-22.
Samedy led with 10 kills and .474 hitting. Employing a 6-2 in Miller’s return she posted 14 assists while McMenimen added 20. Pittman notched five blocks. CC McGraw finished with 16 digs.
Minnesota dropped the border battle for the first time since 2014 as they fell 25-18, 25-14, 25-20 in Madison. The Gophers struggled to pass and couldn’t get the Badgers out of system enough; Wisconsin had eight aces to Minnesota’s one and the Gophers hit sub .100 in the first two sets. The Gophers were outhit .274-.160.
Minnesota held the lead early in set one but ex-Gopher Lauren Barnes had a six-point service run including two aces to put Wisconsin in front 12-8. Barnes punctuated the set with another service run as Wisconsin closed it out on a 5-0 run.
The Gophers were doing their best hang in the second set when one of the conference’s best servers, Izzy Ashburn went back to the service line. Ashburn helped the Badgers string together seven points including two aces as Wisconsin went in front 21-9.
After surrendering two four-point runs Minneota tried to mount a late comeback in the third but it was too little, too late. Down 22-15 Minnesota started trading two points to every one Badger point; both teams hit over .400 in the final set.
Alexis Hart led Minnesota with 10 kills. McMenimen put up 23 assists. Rachel Kilkelly had Minnesota’s lone ace. Taylor Morgan had eight blocks which was the only category Minnesota out did Wisconsin in, 11-4. CC and Adanna Rollins both posted nine digs to lead the defense.
Illinois 10/9 Recap
Despite being outdone in most major stats Minnesota was able to get a four-set road win over Illinois; 25-18, 29-27, 25-12, 25-23. Minnesota took advantage of Illini errors and buckled down when it mattered late in sets.
Minnesota took control early n set one going up 13-7 as the Illini committed six errors. The Gophers kept rolling, getting in a good sideout rhythm as they won 25-18; the Gophers hit .351 during the set.
Two separate six-point runs made it seem like Minnesota was going to win the second set easy as they went up 22-14 and later 24-17. Illinois though went on an incredible 8-0 run to earn themselves a set point. Alexis Hart stopped the bleeding for Minnesota and tied the set at 25-all. Illinois got two more set points as the teams traded sideouts. After an Illini service error tied the set again at 27 the Gopher block got two stuffs to close out the set, their seventh and eighth of the set as Taylor Morgan combined with Rollins and then Samedy to deny Illinois.
While Minnesota was up two sets to none the Illini had the momentum in the third as their offense hit their stride with a .519 hitting effort. Illinois blew the set open with a 9-0 run to go up 21-8.
Just as they did in the second set Minnesota had to fight off an Illinois come back to get the win. The Gophers 17-12 lead was cut to one. Minnesota grew their lead back to four, but again Illinois drew within one, 22-21 and later tied the set at 23. Looking to avoid a fifth set Minnesota got a kill from Rollins and block from Pittman and Hart.
Hart led the Gophers with 14 kills. McMenimen finished with 37 assists and 15 digs for a double-double; CC also posted 15 digs. Pittman, Samedy, and Taylor Morgan all had seven blocks.
Playing their second match without CC, it took four sets but Minnesota picked up the win over Rutgers at the beginning of the month; 25-17, 25-20, 19-25, 25-12.
A 7-1 run towards the beginning of the first set was the difference. Rutgers gifted Minnesota with five errors as they sprung Minnesota to a 13-6 lead.
Near the midpoint of set two Rutgers still led the Gophers. Down 14-13, Hart went to work putting away two kills and getting a solo stuff over a 6-1 Minnesota run.
Minnesota trailed most of the third set as Rutgers settled down and hit .353. The Gophers were within two late, 21-19 but the Scarlet Knights closed the set on a 4-0 run.
Forced to play an extra set Minnesota dominated the fourth. The Gophers ran out to a 10-3 lead on the strength of three kills each from Morgan and Rollins. Minnesota kept rolling as they hit .471.
Pittman paced the Gophers with 14 kills and .583 hitting. McMenimen tallied 48 assists and a team-high 15 digs for a double-double. Samedy led the servers with three aces. Morgan, Pittman and Rollins and recorded four blocks.
The match with the Hawkeyes was an offensive showdown as the Gophers outhit Iowa .323-.291. Minnesota won 18-25, 25-21, 25-18, 30-28 after dropping the first set which saw Iowa hit a blistering .645 (20-0-31).
In the opening set Minnesota hit .385 but it was no match for Iowa’s error-less effort. Iowa broke a 4-all tie with a 12-2 run that gave the Hawkeyes a ten-point lead, 16-6. Forced to go deeper down the bench with Rachel Kilkelly in the libero jersey Hugh elected to sub Claire Sheehan in for Alexis Hart full-time early in the set eliminating the need for a defensive specialist sub.
Minnesota jumped out to a 9-2 lead in the second set as Iowa committed their first hitting error and Minnesota got a couple of blocks as the Hawkeye offense cooled off hitting only .175 during the set.
Iowa lead early in the third set but Minnesota was able to execute defensively and force some Hawkeye hitting errors. A 7-1 Gopher run included three blocks and two other Hawkeye hitting errors as Minnesota went in front for good 12-9.
The Gophers had to come behind in the final set as Iowa got to set point before Minnesota ever got a match point. A 7-0 run put Iowa in front 15-11 and forced Hugh to burn both timeouts. The Gophers steadily chipped at the lead before tying it at 23. Iowa sidedout though and got to set point. The two teams then traded points as Minnesota saved five set points. An Iowa service error tied the set at 28 then Minnesota closed it out with back-to-back kills from Taylor Morgan.
The middles Pittman and Morgan led the offense with 16 kills each and .640 and .577 hitting respectively. Pittman was the leading blocker with five. McMenimen put up 50 assists. Lauren Litzau only appeared in one set but led the team with two aces. Rollins led the defense with 17 digs.
CC McGraw picked up the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honor after her 32 dig effort in the four-set win over Illinois. Against Northwestern she had 16 digs and an ace; she had three assists in both matches.
Big Ten Standings
|Standings||Conf.||Pct.||Overall||Pct.||Streak||Most recent Big Ten Games||Up Next|
|Standings||Conf.||Pct.||Overall||Pct.||Streak||Most recent Big Ten Games||Up Next|
|Wisconsin||8-0||1.000||12-4||0.750||W8||W 3-0 vs NW, W 3-2 vs ILL||@ MSU, @ MICH|
|Nebraska||7-1||0.875||15-2||0.882||W4||W 3-0 @ MARY, W 3-1 vs PUR||@ IU, @ PUR|
|Penn State||7-1||0.875||14-3||0.824||W5||W 3-0 @ MSU, W 3-1 @ MICH||vs ILL, @ MARY|
|Minnesota||7-1||0.875||13-3||0.813||W2||W 3-1 vs ILL, W 3-0 vs NW||@ MICH, @ MSU|
|Michigan||6-2||0.750||13-5||0.722||W1||W 3-0 vs RUT, L 1-3 vs PSU||vs MN, vs WIS|
|Michigan State||4-4||0.500||13-5||0.722||L1||L 0-3 vs PSU, W 3-0 vs RUT||vs WIS, vs MN|
|Purdue||4-4||0.500||12-5||0.706||W1||W 3-2 @ OSU, L 1-3 @ NEB||vs IOWA, vs NEB|
|Illinois||4-4||0.500||9-8||0.529||L2||L 1-3 @ MN, L 2-3 @ WIS||@ PSU, vs OSU|
|Maryland||3-5||0.375||11-9||0.550||L1||L 0-3 vs NEB, W 3-2 vs IU||@ NW, vs PSU|
|Ohio State||3-5||0.375||10-10||0.500||L1||L 2-3 vs PUR, W 3-0 vs IOWA||vs RUT, @ ILL|
|Iowa||2-6||0.250||8-11||0.421||W1||W 3-1 vs IU, L 0-3 @ OSU||@ PUR, @ IU|
|Indiana||1-7||0.125||12-9||0.571||L4||L 1-3 @ IOWA, L 2-3 @ MARY||vs NEB, vs IOWA|
|Northwestern||0-8||0.000||9-11||0.450||L8||L 0-3 @ WIS, L 0-3 @ MN||vs MARY, @ RUT|
|Rutgers||0-8||0.000||6-13||0.316||L10||L 0-3 @ MICH, L 0-3 @ MSU||@ OSU, vs NW|
- Baylor (61)
- Stanford (2)
- Pittsburgh (1)
- Penn State
Ranked Big Ten Teams: #5 Nebraska, #6 Wisconsin, #7 Minnesota, #8 Penn State, #17 Illinois, #20 Purdue, RV Michigan
This weekend Minnesota hosts Michigan on Friday at 5:00 P.M. CT and Michigan State on Sunday at 11:00 A.M. CT; both matches will be on BTN.