MinnThe third-ranked Minnesota volleyball team (16-2, 4-1) swept Northwestern (6-10, 1-5) in three games by scores of 30-21, 30-26, 30-27 at the Sports Pavilion on Saturday, Oct. 9. With the victory, Minnesota has now won 15 of its last 16 matches.
Senior outside hitter Trisha Bratford hit .500 (16-0-32) with 16 kills and did not commit a hitting error in 32 swings. Erin Martin (Ames, Iowa) led the attack with 18 kills. Martin also hit .412 (18-4-34) on the night. The outside hitters for Minnesota hit a combined .469 (34-4-64) on the night with 34 kills.
Lindsey Taatjes (Prinsburg, Minn.) recorded her 1,000th career dig in the third game of the match. Taatjes moved her career total to 1,002 with 11 digs on the night. She also had 31 assists on the night. Jessica Byrnes (Minnetonka, Minn.) also hit .438 (9-2-16) on the night for Minnesota. Kelly Bowman (Maple Grove, Minn.) narrowly missed a triple-double with eight kills, 10 digs and 22 assists.
"One number that stands out to me is Trisha Bratford's 16 kills without an error," said Minnesota Head Coach Mike Hebert. "That is an impressive line. Our left-side was very efficient tonight. I think it is a testament that our team can play two tough Big Ten opponents and sweep the weekend like we did. We were not at our best this weekend, but any time you can win both your Big Ten matches on the weekend you are happy since this is such a competitive conference."
Minnesota jumped out to a quick 14-9 lead in game one. The Golden Gophers maintained that lead for most of the game and were 21-16. Minnesota rattled off four straight points to take a 25-16 lead. The Golden Gophers pushed the lead to game point at 29-21, and Jessica Byrnes put down a kill to give Minnesota game one.
Bratford hit .800 with eight kills in 10 swings in the first game. The Golden Gophers outhit Northwestern .395 to .238 in the game, and had 22 kills to the Wildcats 15.
The two teams started off evenly in game two and were tied at 10, before Minnesota scored eight of the next 11 points to go up 18-13. The Golden Gophers pushed the lead out even further to 25-16. Northwestern came storming back with nine of the next 12 points to cut the lead to 28-25. Martin put down a kill to give the Golden Gophers game point at 29-25. Northwestern fought off game point to make it 29-26, but had service error to give Minnesota the second game 30-26.
Martin hit .818 with nine kills in 11 swings in game two. Minnesota outhit Northwestern .318 to .184, and had 19 kills to the Wildcats 13 in the game.
Minnesota trailed for most of the third game, and found itself down 23-20 in the later portions of the game. The Golden Gophers scored six of the next nine points to tie the game at 26. Bratford put down a kill to give Minnesota the game at 27-26. Bowman and Byrnes combined on a block on the next point to give the Golden Gophers at 28-26 lead. Bratford followed with a kill to make it match point at 29-26, and Bowman put a kill down to give Minnesota the match in three games.
The Golden Gophers outhit Northwestern .289 to .149 for the match, and had 59 kills to 43 for the Wildcats. For only the third time on the season, Minnesota was outaced by its opponent as Northwestern three aces to one for the Golden Gophers. Minnesota narrowly outdug the Wildcats 59-to-56.
Minnesota will travel to Iowa to take on the Hawkeyes on Wednesday, Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. The Golden Gophers will then return home to host Illinois at Williams Arena on Saturday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. Minnesota will attempt to break its attendance record of 6,046, which was set at Williams on Sept. 28, 1990 against Purdue.