The 12th-ranked Minnesota volleyball team (12-2, 2-0) won in four sets by scores of 23-25, 25-10, 26-24, 25-20 over No. 18 Wisconsin (10-4, 0-2) at the Sports Pavilion on Saturday, Sept. 27. It marks the fourth time in five years the Golden Gophers have started out 2-0 in conference play
With the win, Minnesota has now defeated Wisconsin in nine of the team’s last 13 meetings. The Golden Gophers have also defeated the Badgers in six of the last seven meetings at the Sports Pavilion.
“I did not think either team played at a tremendously high skill level tonight, but both teams competed very hard in this match,” said Minnesota Head Coach Mike Hebert. “I thought the big difference was our serving. Our serves took them out of their system and made them make bad passes at times tonight. It really helped us through some key stretches of the match.”
Minnesota was led by Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minn.) who had 16 kills, hit .364 (16-4-33), tied a season-high 10 blocks and had her second double-double of the season. Brook Dieter (Bloomington, Minn.) had 14 kills, 11 digs and finished with a career-high eight blocks.
Pam Luiz (Limeira, Brazil) had nine kills and 14 digs for the match, while Kyla Roehrig (Papillion, Neb.) finished with 10 kills on the night. Kelly Schmidt (Champaign, Ill.) also finished with seven kills and four blocks on the night.
Junior Christine Tan (Safety Harbor, Fla.) had 21 digs, three assists and a season-high two service aces on the night. Rachel Hartmann (St. Charles, Ill.) finished with 49 assists, 12 digs and three blocks, while Hailey Cowles (Eden Prairie, Minn.) had 10 digs and two service aces.
Minnesota outhit Wisconsin .207 to .112 on the night, and had 58 kills to 49 for the Badgers. The Golden Gophers also had six service aces, while Wisconsin only had one. Minnesota outblocked the Badgers 16.0-to-9.0 to continue its streak of having more blocks than its opponents in every match this year. The Golden Gophers also outdug Wisconsin 77 to 72 on the night.
“Our defense continues to be our trademark,” said Hebert. “There are times where we struggle with our offense, but our back row play and our blocking continues to be steady this year. We always know it is going to be there even when other elements of our game are not.
The teams split the first two sets, and after trailing by 12-10 the Golden Gophers took an 18-14 lead over the Badgers. Wisconsin answered with eight of the next 10 points to take a 22-20 lead. After a Roehrig kill, the Badgers scored to make it 23-21. Roehrig followed with another kill, but Katherine Dykstra answered with a kill to make it set point in the crucial third set.
Dieter and Gibbemeyer responded with consecutive kills to fight off a pair of set points, and tie the set at 24. On the next play Dieter delivered a kill off a set from Gibbemeyer to make it set point for the Golden Gophers at 25-24. Dieter and Gibbemeyer teamed up on a block on Dykstra to close out the set and give Minnesota a 2-1 lead in the match.
Both teams hit .115 in the set, and had six blocks apiece. Minnesota had 15 kills to 14 for Wisconsin in the set. Gibbemeyer paced the Golden Gophers with seven kills and four blocks in the set.
In the fourth set, Minnesota jumped out to a 13-11 lead after a solo block by Gibbemeyer. The Badgers answered with a 4-0 run to take a 15-13 lead over the Golden Gophers. Minnesota scored the next five points, four of which came on Gibbemeyer kills, to go up 18-15.
The Golden Gophers pushed their lead to 23-18 on a kill by Hartmann. After a Brittney Dolgner kill, the Badgers committed a service error to make it match point at 24-19. Caity Dupont delivered a kill for Wisconsin to fight off the first match point, but Dieter put down a kill to give the Golden Gophers a four-set victory.
In the first set, Minnesota led 18-15, before the Badgers scored five of the next seven points and tied the set at 20 on a kill by Dolgner. Roehrig followed with a kill by, but the Badgers tied it at 21. Dieter had a pair of kills that put Minnesota ahead 23-22. However, Audra Jeffers and Dupont delivered consecutive kills to give the Badgers set point. Jeffers followed with a kill to give Wisconsin the set after scoring the final three points.
Wisconsin outhit Minnesota .238 to .205 in the set, and had 17 kills to 15 for the Golden Gophers. Luiz had four kills in six swings in the set, while Dieter had four kills as well.
Minnesota stormed out of the gates to a 7-1 lead in the second set. Wisconsin cut the lead to 11-7, but the Golden Gophers ripped off four consecutive points and moved ahead 15-7 when Schmidt and Hartmann combined on a block. With the score at 17-9, Minnesota ran off seven straight points to make it set point at 24-9 after a Cowles service ace. Dieter put down a kill to give the Golden Gophers a decisive 25-10 victory in the second set.
In the second set, Minnesota limited Wisconsin to a -.094 hitting percentage, and hit .290 in the set. The Golden Gophers limited the Badgers to five kills, while they had 12 in the set. Minnesota also had four blocks and three service aces in the set. Schmidt had four kills in five swings in the set to go with two blocks.
Wisconsin was led by DuPont who had 14 kills and 11 digs. Dolgner finished with 10 kills and nine digs. Kim Kuzma had a match-high 24 digs for the Badgers.
Minnesota will be back in action when it travels to No. 20 Illinois on Friday, Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. The Golden Gophers will also play a road match at No. 19 Purdue on Saturday, Oct. 4 at 7 p.m. Both matches can be heard on gohpersports.com.