The No. 15 ranked Minnesota volleyball team defeated No. 22 Ohio State in four sets Saturday night at the Sports Pavilion (25-18, 25-19, 22-25, 25-23). The win elevates the Golden Gophers overall record to 14-9 and an even 7-7 in the Big Ten Conference.
Minnesota was led on the court by the dynamic sophomore duo of Ashley Wittman and Tori Dixon. For the second consecutive night, Wittman had a match-high in kills and recorded another double double. Wittman finished the night with 21 kills, 12 digs, two blocks and two service aces. Tori Dixon finished the night ranked second on the team with 14 kills for a .310 hitting percentage. Dixon also recorded five blocks, three digs and a service ace. Hailey Cowles led the Gophers with 16 digs, while Kellie McNeil had 45 assists.
The Golden Gophers took the first set, 25-18, finishing on an 8-2 run. Trailing 14-13, Minnesota had five-straight kills, three from Wittman and two by Ariana Filho to go up 17-14. The Buckeyes cut the lead to one, receiving kills form Emily Danks and Kelli Barhorst, but it would be the closest OSU would get for the remainder of the set. OSU had three attack errors, while the Gophers had a kill and an ace from Wittman, two kills from Cowles and a kill from Harms to take the first.
The Gophers took a 2-0 lead when they won the second set, 25-19 after 11 tie scores and seven lead changes existed. The Gophers and Buckeyes exchanged leads and were tied at 18 all. Like the first set, Minnesota went on another run at the end of the set, this time a 7-1 swing. After a block by McNeil and Dixon to go up, 19-18, Dixon had a kill. After two OSU attack errors, Minnesota closed out the third set with kills from Filho and Wittman to close out the set.
Ohio State took an early lead in the third set, only to have Minnesota tie it up at 19-19. The Buckeyes, however, strung together three straight points to go up, 22-19. Wittman added back-to-back kills as the Gophers came within one at 22-21, but the Buckeyes were able to hold off the Gopher comeback attempt and won the third set, 25-22. After the Buckeyes hit .022 in the first and .062 in the second, OSU hit .270 in the third.
In the fourth set, Minnesota jumped out to a 17-13 lead on a kill in the middle from Dixon to force OSU to take a timeout. Minnesota came out of the timeout with a huge block from Dixon to go up, 18-13. With the Gophers holding a 24-17 lead, Ohio State fought off six match points and battled back all the way to 24-23 before Wittman finished the night with a kill and a 25-23 fourth-set win.
Minnesota will host Michigan State Wednesday night at the Sports Pavilion. The Gophers and Spartans battle at 7 p.m. The game will also be live on the Big Ten Network.