The 13th-ranked Minnesota volleyball team (4-1) defeated Auburn (4-1) in three sets by scores of 25-11, 25-17, 25-6 in the Diet Coke Classic on Friday, Sept. 4. Earlier in the day, No. 12 Iowa State defeated George Washington 25-18, 25-18, 25-15.
Minnesota was led by Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minn.) who hit a career-high .667 (11-1-15) with 11 kills, four digs and two blocks. Junior Brook Dieter (Bloomington, Minn.) had 12 kills, four digs, four blocks and a service ace.
Senior setter Taylor Carico (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) had 25 assists, two kills and a service ace, while Christine Tan (Safety Harbor, Fla.) had 14 digs on the night. Hailey Cowles (Eden Prairie, Minn.) also had nine digs, while Megan Wilson (Lincoln, Neb.) had three service aces for a second time this year.
Minnesota hit over .400 for the third straight match, as it hit .421 (39-7-76) with 39 kills and committed only seven errors in 76 swings. The Golden Gophers also limited Auburn to a .000 hitting percentage and 22 kills. The Golden Gophers outblocked the Tigers 8.0-to-1.0 in the match.
Minnesota jumped out to a 9-6 lead in the first set after a kill by Love. Filho and Wilson delivered back-to-back kills to push the Golden Gophers ahead 12-6. Minnesota extended that lead out to 17-9, before Auburn answered with consecutive points. The Golden Gophers finished out the set with eight straight points paced by a two kills and a block by Love.
The Golden Gophers outhit Auburn .391 to .000 in the first set, and had 11 kills to eight for the Tigers. Gibbemeyer led the way with four kills, while Tabitha Love (Dauphin, Manitoba) finished with three kills and three blocks in the set. Ariana Filho (Monument, Colo.) also had three blocks in the first set.
Minnesota jumped out to a 12-7 lead in the second set, before Auburn scored three straight points to cut the lead to 12-10. The Golden Gophers answered with five of the next six points, and took a 17-11 lead on a service ace by Wilson. Auburn trimmed the lead to 21-16, but after an attack error by the Tigers Filho delivered consecutive kills to make it set point at 24-16. Auburn fought off the first set point, but Katherine Harms (St. Michael-Albertville, Minn.) closed out the set with a kill.
The Golden Gophers outhit the Tigers .250 to .062 in the set, and had three blocks to one for Auburn. Minnesota ran out to an 8-1 lead in the third set after a Dieter service ace. With the score at 11-4, Dieter delivered back-to-back kills, and combined on a block with Brianna Haugen (Minneapolis, Minn.) to make it 14-4.
After a ballhandling error by Auburn, Wilson and Dieter had consecutive kills and Dieter and Haugen combined on a block to close out a 7-0 run to make it 18-4. The Golden Gophers extended their lead to 21-5 on a kill by Gibbemeyer. After Auburn made it 21-6, Dieter delivered back-to-back kills, followed by a Gibbemeyer kill to make it set point at 24-6. Dieter finished out the set to give Minnesota a 25-6 third-set victory.
Auburn's six points were the fewest allowed by the Golden Gophers in a set since 2008 when the rally-scoring format changed to 25 points. Minnesota hit .640 (17-1-25) with 17 kills, and limited Auburn to -.077 and four kills in the set. Dieter had eight kills in nine swings and also collected two blocks.
Auburn was led by Morgan Johns who had six kills, while Sarah Bullock had five kills and five digs. Liz Crouch finished with a match-high 14 digs.
Minnesota will be back in action on Saturday, Sept. 5 when it faces George Washington at 10:30 a.m., and No. 12 Iowa State at 8 p.m. Both matches can be heard on gophersports.com. There will also be a live blog during both matches.