The No. 1 ranked Minnesota volleyball team (8-1) survived a scare from Rice (7-2) to win its first match of the GlaxoSmithKline UNC Volleyball Classic in five games by scores 30-23, 30-32, 26-30, 30- 28, 15-11 on Friday, Sept. 17 at the Carmichael Auditorium in Chapel Hill, N.C. With the win, Minnesota moves to 1-0 in the tournament, while Rice falls to 0-1.
Minnesota trailed 2-1 in the match and was down to it last two points trailing 28-24 in game four, but the Golden Gophers ripped off the final six points to send it to a fifth game. It marked the third time in its last four matches that Minnesota has rallied from a 2-1 deficit to win in five games.
The Golden Gophers have won their last eight five-game matches when they have trailed 2-1 dating back to 2002.
Erin Martin (Ames, Iowa) paced Minnesota with 22 kills in the match. Trisha Bratford (Reseda, Calif.) had 18 kills and five blocks, three of which were solo blocks. Kelly Bowman (Maple Grove, Minn.) had her third triple-double of the season with 11 kills, 30 assists and a career-high 22 digs. Jessica Byrnes (Minnetonka, Minn.) and Meredith Nelson (St. Croix Falls, Wis.) each had 10 kills in the match.
Lindsey Taatjes (Prinsburg, Minn.) had seven kills, 39 assists and 16 digs for Minnesota. Five Minnesota players tallied double figure digs, as Paula Gentil (Forteleaza Ceara', Brazil) had 20, while Lisa Reinhart (White Bear Lake, Minn.) and Marci Peniata (Plymouth, Minn.) each had 12.
In game five Minnesota jumped out to a 7-3 lead, but Rice came storming back with the next four points to tie the game at 7-7. The Golden Gophers answered with a 4-0 run of their own to go up 11-7. Bratford put down a kill to make it 8-7. After a Rice ballhandling error made it 9-7, Bratford followed with a solo block and a kill to make it 11-7. The Owls scored the next two points to make it 11-9, but committed a service error to make it 12-9. Minnesota scored the next point to go up 13-9. Rice cut it to 13-10, but Byrnes delivered a kill to give Minnesota match point at 14-10. The Owls scored to make it 14-11, but Martin put down a kill to give Minnesota the match.
Minnesota jumped out to an early 8-6 lead in game one, but Rice scored the next three points to go up 9-8. The Golden Gophers came back with three of the next four points to go up 11-10. The Owls scored three of the next four points to move up 13-12. Minnesota went on a 4-0 run to take a 16-13 lead. Rice scored four of the next six points to cut the lead to 18-17. The Owls scored five of the next eight points to take a 22-21 lead.
Minnesota scored the next two points to go up 23-22, but Rice tied it again at 23. Bowman put down a kill to give the Golden Gophers the lead at 24-23. Minnesota scored the next five points to get game point at 29-23. Byrnes closed out the game at 30-23 with a kill to put Minnesota up 1-0 in the match.
The Golden Gophers outhit the Owls .342 to .149 in the game. Rice also had 10 errors in the game to three for Minnesota. Martin paced the Golden Gophers with five kills in the first game. Taatjes and Gentil each had six digs in the game.
Rice jumped out to an 11-8 lead to start the second game. Minnesota scored four of the next five points to tie the game at 12. The two teams tied nine times on the way to a tie score at 21. Nelson put down a kill to give Minnesota a 22-21 lead. Minnesota followed by scoring on Rice hitting error and Bratford followed with a solo block to give the Golden Gophers a 24-21 lead.
Rice came back scoring four of the next five points to tie the score at 25. The two teams exchanged the next four points to move to a tie at 27. Rice's Rebeca Pazo delivered a service ace to put the Owls up 28-27. The Golden Gophers scored the next two points to set up game point at 29-28. However, Rice fought off game point and moved ahead 30-29 to set a game point of it own. Martin put down a kill to fight off the first game point to tie it at 30, but Rice moved ahead for its second game point at 31-30. The Owls put down a kill to take game two 32-30 to tie the match at one game apiece.
The Owls outhit Minnesota .357 to .304 in the game, while both teams had 19 kills in the game. Martin paced the Golden Gophers with four kills in the game.
Minnesota jumped out to an early 6-1 lead in game three behind three kills from Martin and a service ace and kill from Taatjes. Rice scored four of the next five points to cut the lead to 7-5, but the Golden Gophers scored the next three points to go up 10-5. The Owls answered with eight of the next 10 points to take a 13-12 lead. Rice scored two of the next three points to go up 15-13. Minnesota scored the next two points to tie it at 15. Rice scored five of the next seven points to take a 20-17 lead over the Golden Gophers. The Owls followed that up by scoring five of the next seven points to take a 25-19 lead. Minnesota scored three of the next four points to cut the lead to 26-22, but Rice came back with two straight points to go up 28-22. Minnesota cut it to 28-24, but the Owls scored the next point to push it to game point at 29-24. The Golden Gophers fought off a pair of game points to make it 29-26, but Rice put down a kill to give them game three 30-26 to take a 2-1 lead in the match.
Minnesota was unable to take advantage of a .277 to .255 hitting percentage advantage. Martin and Bratford each had five kills in the game, while Bowman and Gentil each had seven digs in the game.
Rice jumped out to an early 7-6 lead in game four. Minnesota responded with five of the next six points to go up 11-8. The Owls cut the lead to 14-13, but the Golden Gophers rattled off three of the next four points to push the lead to 17-14. Rice ripped off 9-0 run to take a 23-17 lead over Minnesota. The Golden Gophers answered with five straight points to cut the lead to 23-22 paced by three kills from Bratford. However, Rice came back with consecutive points to push the lead to 25-22. Taatjes came up with back-to-back kills to cut the lead to 25-24, but Rice responded with three straight points to go up 28-24.
Minnesota scored six straight points behind Gentil's serve to take the game 30-28 and force the match to a fifth game. With the score at 28-27, Martin put down a kill to tie the game at 28. Martin and Nelson then combined on a block to give the Golden Gophers game point at 29-28. Nelson followed with a kill to complete the comeback to give Minnesota game four 30-28.
The Golden Gophers limited the Owls to a .000 hitting percentage in game four, while hitting .051 themselves. Minnesota had 18 kills to just nine for Rice in the game, but the Golden Gophers also committed 15 errors in the game. Bratford paced Minnesota with five kills in the game. Bowman and Reinhart had eight and seven digs respectively in the game.
Minnesota outhit Rice .230 to .184, and had 80 kills to 70 for the Owls. The Golden Gophers also narrowly edged Rice in digs (88-to-83) and blocks (9.0-to-7.0).
The Owls were led by Rebeca Pazo who had 21 kills and 18 digs. Lindsey Carter also had 14 kills and 15 digs, while Kristina Hoban had 63 assists and 16 digs.
Minnesota will play No. 20 Loyola Marymount on Saturday, Sept. 18 at 9 a.m. (CT). The Golden Gophers will finish the tournament against host North Carolina on Sept. 18 at 6:30 p.m. (CT).