Aug. 26, 2011
Minnesota 2, USC, 3
The No. 12 University of Minnesota volleyball team opened the 2011 season against tough competition today, at State College, Pa. as the Golden Gophers faced No. 2 Southern California in the AVCA Showcase. Minnesota fell to USC in five sets, (25-23, 26-24, 13-25, 21-25, 7-15).
The Gophers started the match strong, winning the first two sets by two points each. In the first set, Minnesota and USC had eight tie scores and four lead changes. Minnesota's biggest lead of the set came at 14-10, but USC battled back to tie the set, 15-15 and later would take the lead. Minnesota, however, rallied back after being down 17-19 and won the set. Down 19-22, Ashley Wittman had three consecutive kills to put the Gophers back to 22-22. After a score of 23-23, Wittman added another kill to put the Gophers up, 24-23, while Mia Tabberson added a service ace to end the first set. In the first set alone, Wittman had eight kills, while Tori Dixon had five.
In the second set, Minnesota jumped out to a 5-2 lead when Dixon added yet another kill. Like the first set, USC battled back and tied the set at 13-13 and later took the lead. The two teams battled each other as each took the lead back from each other. Like the first set and tied at 22-22, Minnesota would then receive a kill from Hailey Cowles to go up, 23-22. Ariana Filho added a service ace for a 24-22 score, while USC's Sara Shaw had back-to-back kills to tie the set for the 11th time. However, Minnesota's Dixon and and Cowles each had a kill to solidify the win by 26-24.
After the break, USC came out and responded to the Gophers' 2-0 lead by winning the set, 13-25. USC jumped out to a 6-2 lead, forcing the Gophers to take a timeout. The Trojans then jumped out to a 17-9 advantage as Minnesota took its second time out. Minnesota couldn't overcome the deficit and fell, 13-25 in the set. USC's All-American Alex Jupiter had 10 kills in the set to lead the Trojans.
USC kept the tempo from the third and carried it into the fourth when it jumped up to a 4-13 lead on Minnesota. However, USC had four attack errors to close the gap to 9-13. Through the course of the set, Minnesota continued to close the gap to 17-19, after two kills by Dixon and one by Wittman. But it was as close as the Gophers could get when they fell, 21-25.
The Trojans never trailed in the fifth set as Minnesota fell, 7-15. USC held an early 4-0 lead before Cowles and Dixon added back-to-back kills to put the score at 4-2. However, USC added four-straight points and continued to roll for the win.
On the night, Dixon held a hitting percentage of .410 with 22 kills in 39 attempts. Her 22 kills against USC beat her previous career high of 17 when she set it against Michigan State on Nov. 13, 2010. Wittman had a double double when she had 18 kills and 16 digs. As the libero, Jessica Granquist came up with some big digs in the game and finished the night with 19. Ariana Filho had eight kills, while Katherine Harms had 11 for a hitting percentage of .348. Tabberson finished the night with 61 assists. also a career high. Her performance tonight beat her 59 she set against Penn State (11/27/10).
Minnesota will compete against Oregon tomorrow night at 5 p.m. (CT). The game will be televised live on the Big Ten Network.