secThe fifth-ranked Minnesota volleyball team (10-2, 0-1) lost its Big Ten opener to No. 10 Wisconsin (9-1, 1-0) in its Big Ten opener at the Wisconsin Fieldhouse on Friday, Sept. 23. It marked the second straight year that Minnesota dropped a five-game match at Wisconsin after leading 2-1.
Minnesota had six players with double-figure kills on the night.
“I thought we played very well defensively, but we struggled to terminate on offense tonight,” said Minnesota Head Coach Mike Hebert. “Wisconsin was a part of that, but we also struggled on our shot selection and some of the other decisions we made on offense. Credit the Badgers for coming back and playing well tonight.”
Junior Kelly Bowman (Maple Grove, Minn.) led the way with 15 kills, 31 assists, seven digs and four blocks. Sophomore Sarah Florian (Holland, Ohio) had 14 kills, 17 digs and a career-high three service aces. Senior Jessica Byrnes (Minnetonka, Minn.) had 13 kills, hit .300 (13-4-30) and had three blocks.
Junior Meredith Nelson (St. Croix Falls, Wis.) had 12 kills, five digs and five blocks, while Jessy Jones (Naperville, Ill.) had 12 kills and three blocks. Freshman Kyla Roehrig (Papillion, Neb.) also had 11 kills and five blocks. Senior Paula Gentil (Forteleaza Ceara’, Brazil) had a match-high 25 digs, while Malama Peniata (Plymouth, Minn.) had 13. Freshman Rachel Hartmann (St. Charles, Ill.) also had a career-high 34 assists and 10 digs.
Minnesota jumped out to an early 6-1 lead in game one, but Wisconsin scored five of the next six points to cut the lead to 7-6. The Golden Gophers responded with five straight points to push the lead up to 12- 6. Minnesota scored six of the next nine points to push the lead up to 18-9.
After a timeout, Wisconsin answered with four straight points to cut the lead to 18-13. With the score at 19-14, the Golden Gophers rattled off six of the next seven points to take a 25-15 lead. The Badgers cut the lead to 25-18 with three straight points, but Minnesota rattled off four of the next five points to put it at game point 29-19. Junior Kelly Bowman (Maple Grove, Minn.) delivered a service ace to give the Golden Gophers game one 30-19.
Minnesota limited the Badgers to a .081 hitting percentage in game one, while the Golden Gophers hit .250. Sophomore Sarah Florian (Holland, Ohio) paced Minnesota with five kills in the game. Kyla Roehrig (Papillion, Neb.) and Jessy Jones (Naperville, Ill.) each had three kills.
Wisconsin jumped out to an early 13-10 lead in game two, but Wisconsin answered with four straight points to take a 14-13 lead. The Golden Gophers came right back with three straight points to move ahead 16-14. The Badgers rattled off five straight points to move ahead 19-16. Wisconsin pushed the lead up to four points at 22-18.
Minnesota cut the lead down to two points at 25-23, but Wisconsin kept the Golden Gophers at bay by scoring two of the next three points to go up 27-24. Bowman followed with a kill, and Jones and Roehrig teamed up on a block to cut the Badger lead to 27-26 to force a Wisconsin timeout. Out of the timeout, Wisconsin scored the next two points to make it game point at 29-26. Bowman delivered a kill to cut it to 29-27, but the Badgers finished off the game at 30-27 to even up the match at one game apiece.
The Badgers outhit Minnesota .188 to .173 in the second game even though the Golden Gophers had 19 kills to Wisconsin’s 16. Nelson led Minnesota with five kills in game two, while Florian and Bowman each had four kills.
Minnesota jumped out to an early 5-4 lead in game three, and expanded it with 10-0 run to move ahead 15-4. The Golden Gophers expanded the lead to 12 at 22-10. Wisconsin scored the next two points to make it 22-12, but the Golden Gophers answered with the next two to make it 24-12. The Badgers responded with eight of the next nine points to cut the Minnesota lead to 25-20. The teams exchanged the next six points to make it 28-23. The Golden Gophers got it to game point at 29-24 on a Nelson kill. Wisconsin fought off three straight game points to make it 29-27, but Bowman closed out the game to give Minnesota a 30-27 game-two victory.
The Golden Gophers narrowly outhit Wisconsin .086 to .080 in the game, but had 17 kills to 13 for the Badgers. Bowman led the way with five kills in the game, while Jones had four.
Wisconsin jumped out to an 11-7 lead in game four, but Minnesota scored six of the next seven points to take a 13-12 lead. The Badgers rallied to tie the game at 16, and reclaimed the lead at 17-16. Minnesota grabbed the lead back at 19-18, but Wisconsin answered with the next two points to go up 20-19. The Golden Gophers rattled off three of the next four points to go up 22-21.
The Badgers seized the momentum from Minnesota with eight of the next nine points to go make it game point at 29-23. Florian delivered a kill to make it 29-24, but Taylor Reineke followed with a kill to give Wisconsin a 30-24 game-four victory to force a fifth game.
Wisconsin outhit Minnesota .386 to .234 in the fourth game. Byrnes led the way with five kills in the game.
In game five, Wisconsin jumped out to a 2-0 lead, before Byrnes delivered a kill to make it 2-1. The Badgers scored the next point, but Byrnes followed with another kill to make it 3-2. Wisconsin answered with the next three points to go up 6-2 to force a Minnesota timeout. Nelson delivered a kill out of the timeout to cut it to 6-3. The Golden Gophers got the next point on a Badger error, and Florian followed with a kill to make it 6-5. However, Wisconsin ran off five straight points to go up 11-5 to force a Minnesota timeout. Out of the timeout the Badgers committed a service error, and Bowman delivered a pair of kills sandwiched around a Florian service ace to make it 11-9. Bowman and Nelson teamed up on a block to cut the lead down to 11-10.
Wisconsin scored to make it 12-10, but Roehrig delivered a kill to cut the lead to 12-11. The Badgers came right back with the next two points to force match point at 14-11. Bowman answered with a kill, but Wisconsin’s Aubrey Meierotto followed with a kill to give the Badgers the five-game victory.
Wisconsin outhit Minnesota .187 to .155 on the night. The Golden Gophers had 78 kills to 65 in the match, but Minnesota finished with 44 errors on the night. The Badgers also outblocked the Golden Gophers 20.0-to-12.0.
Sheila Shaw led the way for Wisconsin with 16 kills and 13 blocks. Meierotto had 12 kills and seven digs for the Badgers. Taylor Reineke and Audra Jeffers each had 10 kills for Wisconsin. Jocelyn Wack had 19 digs, while Maria Carlini had eight kills and 17 digs. Setter Katie Lorenzen had six kills, 25 assists and six digs.
Minnesota will be back in action at Northwestern on Saturday, Sept. 24 at 7 p.m.