The eighth-ranked Minnesota volleyball team (10-1) won its seventh straight match, as it defeated Winthrop (3-8) in three sets by scores of 25-22, 25-11, 28-26 at the Gopher Invitational at the Sports Pavilion on Saturday, Sept. 20.
Earlier in the first session, TCU defeated North Carolina in five sets by scores of 25-19, 25-22, 18-25, 17-25, 15-13. Both teams are 1-1 in the Gopher Invitational.
Minnesota was led by sophomore middle blocker Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minn.) who tied a career-high 19 kills, had five blocks and hit .438 (19-5-32). Brook Dieter (Bloomington, Minn.) and Kyla Roehrig (Papillion, Neb.) finished with eight and seven kills respectively.
Christine Tan (Safety Harbor, Fla.) had a match-high 22 digs, while Alex Blatt (Orland Park, Ill.) 13 digs, two blocks and 22 assists in her first career start.
Minnesota outhit Winthrop .213 to .045, and had 48 kills to 30 for the Eagles. The Golden Gophers also outblocked Winthrop 11.0-to-6.0, and had 69 digs to 50 for the Eagles.
As Minnesota started the first set, Blatt, freshman middle blocker Ariana Filho (Monument, Colo.) and senior Katie Vatterrodt (Bloomington, Ill.) were on the floor for their first starts of the season.
The Golden Gophers move out to a 3-2 lead, but Winthrop scored seven of the next 10 points to take a 9-6 lead. Gibbemeyer delivered a kill, and Minnesota scored the next point to make it 9-8. The Eagles pushed the lead back out to three point at 14-11.
After the two teams traded the next four points to make it 16-13, Gibbemeyer delivered a kill and the Golden Gophers scored the next point to make it 16-15. Winthrop move ahead 17-15, but Cowles followed with a kill to cut it to 17-16. Dieter followed with consecutive kills to take the lead at 18-17. Vatterrodt and Filho combined on a block to make it 19-17 to complete a 6-1 Minnesota run, which forced an Eagle timeout.
Out of the timeout, Winthrop scored the next two points to tie the set at 19. Filho delivered a kill to make it 20-19, but the Eagles scored the next point to tie it at 20. Roehrig and Gibbemeyer gave Minnesota a two-point lead with consecutive kills, and then teamed up on a block to make it 23-20. Roehrig delivered a kill to make it set point at 24-21, and the Golden Gophers closed it out at 25-22.
Minnesota narrowly outhit Winthrop .275 to .256 in the first set, and each team had 16 kills. Gibbemeyer led the way with five kills in six swings in the set.
The Golden Gophers ran out to a 12-2 lead in second set, before scored three straight points to cut it to 12-5. Minnesota scored four of the next five points to push its lead back out to 10 point at 16-6. After Winthrop cut it to 16-8, the Golden Gophers scored four of the next five points to take a 20-9 lead. Minnesota scored five of the final seven points to claim the set 25-11.
In the second set, the Golden Gophers limited Winthrop to a -.129 hitting percentage, and hit .323. Minnesota also had 15 kills to five for the Eagles. Gibbemeyer and Dieter each had four blocks for the Golden Gophers in the set.
Minnesota fell behind 11-7 in the third set, and inserted Rachel Hartmann (St. Charles, Ill.) into the match for the first time. Winthrop pushed the lead to 16-11, but the Golden Gophers answered when Roehrig delivered a kill, and combined on a block with Gibbemeyer. Gibbemeyer followed with a kill, and Roehrig came up with a solo block. The Eagles committed an attack error to help the Golden Gopher complete a 5-0 run that tied the match at 16.
Winthrop took the lead at 17-16, but Gibbemeyer answered with consecutive kills to make it 18-17. After the Eagles tied it at 18, Ashley Suapaia (Bloomington, Minn.) had a service ace. The teams went back and forth after that point, and were tied at 22. Dieter delivered a kill, and Pam Luiz (Limeira, Brazil) and Filho combined on a block to make it match point at 24-22.
The Eagles fought back with three straight points to make it set point at 25-24. Luiz delivered a kill to fight off set point, but Shannon Sitzmann put down another kill for Winthrop to make it set point at 26-25. Gibbemeyer and Roehrig answered with back-to-back kills to make it match point again, and Gibbemeyer put the match away with a solo block to give the Golden Gophers a three-set victory.
Filho also finished the match with a career-best four kills and three blocks.
Winthrop was led by Sitzmann who had 12 kills and three blocks. Kaley Viola also had eight kills and 10 digs for the Eagles. Janice Rivera finished with a team-high 11 digs.
Minnesota will wrap up the tournament against North Carolina on Sept. 20 at 7:30 p.m. TCU and Winthrop will play the early match at 5 p.m.