The No. 19 University of Minnesota volleyball team beat border rival Wisconsin in straight sets tonight at the Sports Pavilion (25-21, 25-21, 28-26). The victory increases the Gopher's overall record to 17-11 and 10-9 in the Big Ten Conference. The Golden Gophers swept the Badgers this season, also defeating UW on Oct. 19 in Madison, Wis. in five sets.
Minnesota was led on the court by sophomore sensations Ashley Wittman and middle blocker Tori Dixon, both of which tied for match-highs with 14 kills. Dixon hit a match and career-high .667 hitting percentage (14-0-21) and recorded three block assists. Wittman also had eight digs and two block assists. Hailey Cowles had a team-high 21 digs, while Mia Tabberson had a match-high 45 assists.
The Golden Gophers hit .333 for a 25-21 set win. Dixon paved the way with six kills, while Wittman added five in the first. Minnesota jumped out to a 12-8 lead before Wisconsin took a timeout. The Badgers would battle back and take the lead, 16-15. Minnesota responded by going on a 6-1 run to go up, 21-17 with a kill by Dixon. The Gophers would close out the set with back-to-back kills by Wittman and Ariana Filho.
The Gophers jumped out 11-4 en route to another 25-21 win. Minnesota outhit Wisconsin, .282 to .171 as Dixon added another five kills to reach double digits after the second set (11). After the 11-4 score, Minnesota would go up 17-12 with a Katherine Harms kill and forced Wisconsin to take a timeout. Wisconsin closed it to four when Ellen Chapman had a kill to put it at 20-16, but Minnesota closed the door with back-to-back kills from Tabberson and Wittman to take the 2-0 lead.
Wisconsin went on a six-point run to tie and later take the lead in the third set, but the Gophers preserved and closed out the set and match with a 28-26 win. With the Gophers trailing 23-22, Wittman had a kill and Wisconsin had an attack error to put the Gophers up, 24-23. Followed by a Wittman error, Ariana Filho added a kill to go up one, but Wisconsin's Courtney Thomas responded to knot it at 25. After a kill by Chapman and a kill by Cowles to even it at 26, Chapman had an attack error, while Cowles added her fifth kill of the night to close out the set and the win.
Minnesota closes out the regular season on Friday night, hosting Indiana at 7 p.m. The match is also Senior Night for Cowles, Filho and Granquist.