The fifth-ranked Minnesota volleyball team (11-2, 1-1) defeated Northwestern (9-3, 0-2) in three games by scores of 30-20, 30-26, 30- 22 on Saturday, Sept. 24 at the Welsh-Ryan Arena.
Sophomore Jessy Jones (Naperville, Ill.) led Minnesota with 10 kills on the night. Junior Kelly Bowman (Maple Grove, Minn.) narrowly missed a triple-double with nine kills, nine digs and 22 assists. Junior Meredith Nelson (St. Croix Falls, Wis.) had eight kills and three blocks. Sophomore Sarah Florian (Holland, Ohio) also had seven kills and five digs.
Senior libero Paula Gentil (Forteleaza Ceara’, Brazil) had a match- high 18 digs for the Golden Gophers
Minnesota jumped out to an early 6-2 lead in game one, but Northwestern scored the next two points to cut the lead to 6-4. The Golden Gophers responded with six of the next seven points to take a 12-5 lead over the Wildcats. Northwestern responded with four straight points to cut the lead to 12-9. Minnesota answered with three straight points to go up 15-9. The Wildcats came back with five of the next seven points to cut the lead down to 17-14.
The Golden Gophers responded with five straight points to go up 22- 14. the two teams exchanged the next six points to make it 25-17. Minnesota rattled of the next four points to make it game point at 29- 17. Northwestern fought off three straight points to make it 29-20, but sophomore Jessy Jones (Naperville, Ill.) delivered a kill to give Minnesota game one30-20.
Minnesota outhit Northwestern .278 to .056 in game one, and had 15 kills to 11 for the Wildcats. Jones led the way with four kills in the game, while Bowman, Nelson and Florian each had three for Minnesota.
In game two both teams traded the first six points to be tied at 3-3, before the Golden Gophers rattled off five straight points to go up 8- 3. Northwestern answered with five of the next six points to cut the lead down to 9-8. Minnesota answered with the next three points to go up 12-8, but the Wildcats responded with three straight points of their own to make it 12-11. With the score at 14-13, freshman Kyla Roehrig (Papillion, Neb.) delivered a kill to make it 15-13. Junior Malama Peniata (Plymouth, Minn.) rattled off three straight service aces to give Minnesota an 18-13 lead to force a Northwestern timeout. Following Jones solo block, Peniata delivered another service ace to make it 20-13.
Northwestern came back with six of the next seven points to cut the lead to 21-19. Minnesota extended the lead back up to 24-20, but the Wildcasts ran off three straight points to cut the lead down to 24- 23. The Golden Gophers grabbed some breathing room by scoring the next three points to go up 27-23. Northwestern cut the lead to 27-25, but Minnesota scored the next two points to grab game point at 29-25. The Wildcats fought off one game point, but the Golden Gophers closed out the game at 30-26.
Minnesota narrowly outhit Northwestern .189 to .186 in game two. The Wildcats ended up with 16 kills to the Golden Gophers 13 in the game. Bowman, Florian and Jones each had three kills in the game for Minnesota.
In game three, the two teams had five ties in the early going and were locked up 7-7 before Minnesota scored five of the next six points to go up 12-8. Northwestern scored three of the next four points to cut it to 13-11, but the Golden Gophers rattled off three straight points to make it 16-11 to force a Wildcat timeout. Minnesota scored the next two points out of the timeout to finish a 5- 0 run to make it 18-11. Northwestern cut the lead to 20-15, but Minnesota scored the next two points to make it 22-15. The Wildcats responded with four straight points to cut the lead to 22-19 to force Minnesota to call timeout. The Golden Gophers scored four straight points out of the timeout to make it 26-19. Minnesota pushed the lead to 29-21 at game points. Northwestern fought off one match point to make it 29-22, but Nelson delivered a kill to give the Golden Gophers game three 30-22.
Minnesota outhit Northwestern .169 to .000 in the third game, and had 16 kills to nine for the Wildcats.
The Golden Gophers outhit the Wildcats .209 to .088 for the match. It marked the ninth time in 13 matches that Minnesota has held an opponent under a .100 hitting percentage. The Golden Gophers also had 44 kills to 36 for Northwestern.
Northwestern was led by Courtnie Paulus who had 10 kills and four digs. Lindsay Anderson also had nine kills and 11 digs. Christie Gardner also had 15 digs for the Wildcats.
Minnesota will be back in action on Friday, Sept. 30 when it plays its Big Ten home opener against Michigan State at 7 p.m. The Golden Gophers will also host Michigan on Saturday, Oct. 1 at 7 p.m.