The University of Minnesota volleyball team (7-4, 1-0) defeated Northwestern (6-4, 0-1) in five games by scores of 27-30, 30-28, 30-19, 29-31, 15-12 in its Big Ten opener on Friday, Sept. 22 in Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston, Ill. With the win the Golden Gophers are now 8-3 in road openers under Minnesota Head Coach Mike Hebert.
Minnesota also continued an unusual trend of winning a match after dropping game one. The Golden Gophers are now 3-1 on the season when they drop game one.
Offensively, the Golden Gophers were paced Kyla Roehrig (Papillion, Neb.) and Meredith Nelson (St. Croix Falls, Wis.) Roehrig has 18 kills and two solo blocks on the night, while Nelson hit .344 (16-5-32) and delivered a season-high 16 kills.
Junior Jessy Jones (Naperville, Ill.) had a team-high six blocks and eight kills. Meghan Cumpston (Red Bluff, Calif.) also had her highest dig total as a Golden Gopher with 13, delivered eight kills and had three service aces.
Senior libero Malama Peniata (Plymouth, Minn.) finished with 30 digs on the night, while Sophomore Rachel Hartmann (St. Charles, Ill.) had 48 assists, nine digs and a career-high five blocks.
Kelly Bowman (Maple Grove, Minn.) had five kills, five assists, 12 digs and four blocks, while Christine Tan (Palm Harbor, Fla.) finished with 12 digs.
Minnesota’s first match of the Big Ten slate had several key momentum swings. The Golden Gophers lost the first game 30-27, and found themselves trailing 25-21, before using a 6-0 run to push them to a 30-28 game two victory.
The Golden Gophers appeared to have taken control of the match when they claimed dominant game three 30-19, and led 28-25 in game four. However, Northwestern rattled off four straight points and won game four 31-29 to force the match to a fifth game.
In the fifth game, Minnesota jumped out to a 3-0 lead before Northwestern ran off four straight points to go up 4-3. Minnesota grabbed the lead back at 7-6. The Golden Gophers held that lead until the Wildcats took it back at 10-8. After a ballhandling error was killed, Cumpston delivered a solo block to the game at 10.
Northwestern tied at 11, before Jones delivered a kill to make it 12-11. Courtnie Paulas answered with a kill for the Wildcats to tie at 12. Nelson gave Minnesota match point with back-to-back kills to make it 14-12. Bowman finished the match with a service ace to give the Golden Gophers the in their Big Ten opener.
Northwestern jumped out to an early 8-2 lead over Minnesota in game one. With the score at 3-2, the Wildcats scored five straight points to push their lead to six points to force a Minnesota timeout. The Golden Gophers scored three straight points to make it 8-5, but Northwestern responded with back-to-back kills to push the lead out to 10-5.
The Golden Gophers cut the lead to two points at 10-8, but the Wildcats responded with back-to-back points to make it 12-8. The two teams exchanged runs where they scored back-to-back runs to make it 14-10. Minnesota cut the lead to 15-13, but the Wildcats opened it back up to four points at 18-14. Nelson and Roehrig delivered back-to-back kills to cut the lead to 18-16.
Northwestern pushed the lead back out to four points at 21-17. Minnesota scored three of the next four points, and cut the Wildcat lead to 22-20 on a Jones’ kill. The Wildcats answered with back-to-back points to move ahead 24-20. Jones and Bowman combined on a block to make it a three-point lead at 24-21. However, the two teams exchanged the next six points to move it to a 27-24 Wildcat lead.
Michele Wilber (Anoka, Minn.) delivered a service ace to cut the lead to 27-25, but Northwestern answered to make it 28-25. The two teams exchanged the next two point to make it game point for Northwestern at 29-26. Roehrig fought off the first game point to make it 29-27, but the Wildcats scored the next point to claim game one 30-27.
Northwestern outhit Minnesota .214 to .053, and had 18 kills to 10 for the Golden Gophers. The Wildcats outblocked Minnesota slightly 4.0-to-3.0, but had five service errors in the game. Roehrig led the Golden Gophers with four kills in the game.
In game two, Minnesota jumped out to a 5-4 lead, but Northwestern scored six of the next nine points to jump ahead 11-7. The Golden Gophers responded with four of the next five points to cut the lead to 12-11. Northwestern led 16-14, before Roehrig delivered a kill to make it 16-15. The Wildcats scored three straight points to push their lead out to four points at 19-15. Roehrig sandwiched a pair of kills around a solo block to cut the Wildcat lead to 19-18.
Northwestern responded with four of the next six points to move ahead 23-20. The Wildcats pushed the lead to four points at 25-21. Minnesota responded in a big way with a 6-0 run to take a 27-25 lead. Nelson started the run with a kill, and the Wildcats committed an error as the Golden Gophers brought the lead to 25-23. Minnesota got back-to-back kills from Roehrig and Nelson to tie the game at 25 to force a Wildcat timeout. Out of the timeout Cumpston delivered a service ace to give Minnesota its first lead since it was 5-4. Roehrig followed with a solo block to finish out the 7-0 run to make it 27-25. Northwestern answered with three of the next four points to tie the game at 28. However, Roehrig delivered back-to-back kills to give Minnesota game two 30-28.
Minnesota was outhit by Northwestern .136 to .118 in game two, but had 17 kills to 13. The Golden Gophers outblocked the Wildcats in the game 4.0-to-3.0. Roehrig paced Minnesota with nine kills in the game.
In game three, Minnesota jumped out to a 19-9 lead. With the score tied at 6-6, the Golden Gophers ripped off a 13-3 run to take the 10-point lead. Minnesota expanded the lead to 11 points at 23-12, before Northwestern went on a 4-0 run to cut it to 23-16. Jones and Cumpston delivered back-to-back kills to take a 25-16 lead.
Northwestern scored two of the next three points to make it 26-18, but Nelson delivered back-to-back kills to make it 28-18. After Northwestern scored to make it 28-19, Nelson and Roehrig delivered back-to-back kills to move ahead 2-1 in the match.
Minnesota limited Northwestern to a .000 hitting percentage in game three, and hit .265. The Golden Gophers had 15 kills to nine for the Wildcats. Nelson led the way with eight kills in the game, and hit .636 (8-1-11).
In game four Northwestern jumped out to a 7-3 lead, before Minnesota scored five of the next six points to tie it at 8-8. Northwestern moved out to a 12-11 lead, but Minnesota scored six of the next eight points to take a 17-14 lead. The Wildcats rattled off three straight points to tie it 17. However, Hartmann and Nelson combined on a block and Cumpston followed with a service ace to put Minnesota ahead 19-17. Roehrig followed with a kill and Cumpston closed out a 4-0 run with service ace to make it 21-17.
Minnesota maintained its four-point lead 25-21, but Northwestern scored consecutive points to make it 25-23. The teams exchanged the next six points, but Minnesota retained its three-point lead after a Cumpston kill made it 28-25. Northwestern responded with four straight points to turn the tables on Minnesota, and make it game point at 29-28. Hartmann delivered a solo block to tie it 29. However, the Wildcats claimed the last two points to win game four 31-29 to force the match to fifth game.
Northwestern outhit Minnesota .130 to .098 in the fourth game, and had 16 kills to 11 for the Golden Gophers. Minnesota did outblock the Wildcats 4.0-to-0.0 in the game. Roehrig led the way with four kills.
Minnesota narrowly outhit Northwestern .122 to .113 for the match, while the Wildcats had 63 kills to the Golden Gophers’ 58. The Golden Gophers have eight service aces and 11 service errors to three service aces and 17 service errors for the Wildcats. Minnesota outblocked Northwestern 16.0-to-8.0, and outblocked the Wildcats 9.0-to-1.0 after game two.
Northwestern was led by Paulas who had 15 kills and 13 digs. Chelsey Hyser had 14 kills and hit .367 (14-3-30), while Lindsey Anderson finished with 11 kills and 11 digs. Setter Stephanie Jurivich had 50 assists and seven digs, while Kate Nobilio had a match-high 32 digs.
Minnesota will resume Big Ten play on Saturday, Sept. 23 when it takes on Illinois at 7 p.m.