The fifth-ranked Minnesota volleyball team (6-1) defeated No. 24 Kansas State (8-1) in four games by scores of 30-25, 30-22, 26-30, 30- 25 to win the Kansas State Invitational in Manhattan, Kan. on Saturday, Sept. 10. With the tournament victory, the Golden Gophers have now won 15 straight regular-season tournament matches (non- conference) dating back to 2004.
Junior Malama Peniata (Plymouth, Minn.) was named the MVP of the Kansas State Invitational, while Junior Meredith Nelson (St. Croix Falls, Wis.) and sophomore Jessy Jones (Naperville, Ill.) received All-Tournament honors.
Nelson paced the Golden Gophers with 15 kills and a season-high eight blocks, including a career-high four solo blocks. She also hit .538 (15-1-26) for the Golden Gophers. Peniata had her first career double- double with 11 kills and a match-high 18 digs in the match. Junior Meghan Cumpston (Red Bluff, Calif.) had a season-high 13 kills and two blocks, while Jones tallied 11 kills and eight blocks on the night.
Minnesota jumped out to an early 9-6 lead in game one, and expanded it with seven of the next nine points to go up 16-8. Kansas State scored six of the next nine points to cut the lead to 19-14, but the Golden Gopher answered with four straight points to take a 23-14 lead. Minnesota took a 28-21 lead, before Kansas State rattled off four straight points to cut it to 28-25. Junior outside hitter Peniata responded with back-to-back kills to give Minnesota the first game 30-25.
Minnesota outhit the Wildcats .378 to .105, and outblocked Kansas State 4.0-to-2.5 in the first game. Peniata and Cumpston led the way with six kills in the game. Peniata had six kills in eight swings to hit .750, while Cumpston hit .455 (6-1-11).
In game two, the Golden Gophers jumped out to an early 10-7 lead, and expanded on it with five of the next seven points to go up 15-9. Kansas State answered with two straight points to cut it to 15-11, but Minnesota rattled off six of the next seven points to take a 21- 12 lead. Kansas State immediately responded with five straight points to cut the lead to 21-17. The Wildcats cut the lead down to four on several occasions, but could get no closer. With the lead at 25-21, senior Jessica Byrnes (Minnetonka, Minn.) delivered consecutive kills to make it 27-21. Senior Paula Gentil (Forteleaza Ceara’, Brazil) followed with a service ace to give the Golden Gophers a 28-21 lead. Minnesota closed out the 4-0 run to give itself game point at 29-21. Kansas State scored the next points, but Byrnes delivered a kill to give the Golden Gophers game two 30-22.
Minnesota outhit Kansas State .316 to .087 in the second game, outblocked the Wildcats 5.0-to-2.5. The Golden Gophers were led by Byrnes who had five kills in the game. Junior Nelson also had three blocks in the game.
Kansas State jumped out to a 6-1 lead in game one, but Minnesota scored consecutive points to cut it to 6-3. The Wildcats scored five of the next seven points to take an 11-5 lead. The Golden Gophers answered with three straight points to cut the lead to 11-8, but Kansas State answered with eight of the next 12 points to go up 19- 12. Minnesota came back with seven of the next 10 points to cut the lead to 22-19. The Golden Gophers trimmed the lead down to 24-23, before Kansas State answered with a kill to make it 25-23. Minnesota got it back down to one point at 25-24, but the Wildcats ran off three consecutive points to take a 28-24 lead. Junior Kelly Bowman (Maple Grove, Minn.) responded with back-to-back kills to cut it to 28-26, but Kansas State’s Agata Rezende put down consecutive kills of her own to give the Wildcats game three 30-26.
The Wildcats outhit Minnesota .279 to .243 in the third game. Nelson led the way for the Golden Gophers with six kills in the game.
Minnesota jumped out to a 3-0 lead in game four, but Kansas State responded with seven of the next nine points to take a 7-5 lead. The Golden Gophers scored the next three points to go up 8-7. Kansas State scored two of the next three points to tie the score at nine. The two teams exchanged the next eight points to reach at tie at 13. Minnesota scored four of the next five to take a 17-13 lead over the Wildcats. Kansas State roared back with five of the next six points to tie the game at 18.
The Golden Gophers responded with three straight points to take a 21- 18 lead. Kansas State trimmed the lead to 22-20, but Jones answered a kill and was part of blocks on the next two points to move the Minnesota lead out to 25-20. Kansas State got the lead to 26-22, but the Golden Gophers finished off the match winning game four 30-25.
Bowman finished the match with a career-high six blocks, eight kills, nine digs and 37 assists. Freshman setter Rachel Hartmann (St. Charles, Ill.) finished with 23 assists and seven digs, while Byrnes had eight kills and three blocks. Gentil had three service aces and 12 digs on the night.
Minnesota outhit Kansas State .296 to .140 on the night. The Golden Gophers have held six of their seven opponents this season to a .140 or lower hitting percentage, and have not let a team hit higher then .193. Minnesota also outblocked the Wildcats 18.0-to-9.5 on the night.
Kansas State was led by Agata Rezende who had 20 kills. Joy Hamlin had 12 kills and four blocks, while Sandy Werner had 10 kills, seven digs and four blocks. Setter Stacey Speigelberg had seven kills, six digs and 51 assists on the night.
Minnesota will be back in action in a neutral site match against Northern Iowa in Rochester, Minn. on Tuesday, Sept. 13. That match will be played at the University Center of Rochester. The Golden Gophers will then play in the TCU Tournament on Sept. 16-17.