The fifth-ranked Minnesota volleyball team (14-4, 5-1) fell to No. 1 Penn State (18-0, 6-0) in three sets by scores of 26-24, 25-21, 25-14 at the Sports Pavilion on Sunday, Oct. 11.
With the loss, the Golden Gophers had a 13-match Big Ten winning streak at the Sports Pavilion snapped. Penn State also extended its winning streak to 82 matches, and moved its Big Ten winning streak to 52 matches.
"Penn State executes the serve and pass game within the game extremely well," said Minnesota Head Coach Mike Hebert. "They really put a lot of pressure on you and they do a good job of capitalizing on your mistakes. I think if that first set goes a little different you probably have a completely different match, however you have players on the team who do a great job of staying calm and making crucial plays at the right times."
Junior Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minn.) led the way for Minnesota hitting .462 (13-1-26), with 13 kills and four blocks, while sophomore Ariana Filho (Monument, Colo.) hit .350 (10-3-20) with 10 kills and two blocks. Together the two middle blockers hit .413 (23-4-46) with 23 of the Golden Gophers' 37 kills in the match. Gibbemeyer's .462 hitting percentage was also the highest by any Penn State opposing player this year.
Christine Tan (Safety Harbor, Fla.) and Hailey Cowles (Eden Prairie, Minn.) each had 11 digs in the match, while senior Taylor Carico (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) had 32 assists, nine digs and two blocks. Junior Brook Dieter (Bloomington, Minn.) collected eight digs, five kills and two blocks.
Penn State outhit Minnesota .328 (56-16-122) to .210 (37-12-119), and had 56 kills to 37 for the Golden Gophers. The .210 hitting percentage was the second-highest against the Nittany Lions. Penn State's .328 hitting percentage was also it's second-lowest of the season. Both teams finished with seven blocks, while the Nittany Lions outdug Minnesota 64 to 49.
The first set featured 14 ties and five lead changes. Minnesota jumped out to an early 6-2 lead after Gibbemeyer and Tabitha Love (Dauphin, Manitoba) combined on a block. Penn State scored four of the next five points to cut the lead to 7-6. The Golden Gophers moved it out to 9-7 on a kill by Dieter. After Penn State tied the set at nine, Filho delivered a kill and Gibbemeyer and Dieter combined on a block to make it 11-9. The Nittany Lions answered with three straight points to take a 12-11 lead.
Minnesota wrestled the lead back at 14-13, but fell behind at 18-17 after a Blair Brown kill. Filho and Megan Wilson (Lincoln, Neb.) combined on a block and Gibbemeyer delivered a kill to make it 19-18. Penn State tied the score at 19, but Wilson delivered a kill and Carico followed with a solo block on Megan Hodge to make it 21-19. Penn State quickly evened the set at 21, after kills by Brown and Arielle Wilson. Dieter put Minnesota ahead 22-21 with a kill, but Penn State score consecutive points to make it 23-22.
Love tied the set at 23 with a kill, but after a service error the Nittany Lions had set point. Filho delivered a kill to fight off set point and tie it at 24. However, Wilson and Brown delivered kills to help Penn State the claim the set at 26-24.
Minnesota outhit Penn State .239 to .209, despite the fact that the Nittany Lions had 17 kills to 15 for the Golden Gophers. In the set, Minnesota outblocked Penn State 5.0-to-3.0. Filho led the way with five kills in eight swings, while Gibbmeyer and Dieter each had four kills.
The second set featured 19 ties and six lead changes. Penn State jumped out to a 10-8 lead, but Filho and Gibbemeyer sandwiched kills around a ballhandling error by the Nittany Lions. The teams exchanged the next 12 points to push it to 17-16. Dieter delivered a kill to make it 18-16, but Penn State answered with consecutive points to tie it at 18.
Gibbemeyer put Minnesota ahead 19-18, but the Nittany Lions tied it at 19. After another Gibbmeyer kill made it 20-19, Penn State tied it at 20 on a kill by Hodge. Gibbemeyer put the Golden Gophers on top 21-20, but Penn State responded by ripping off five straight points to take the second set 25-21.
Penn State outhit Minnesota .447 (20-3-38) to .342 (16-3-38) in the second set, and had 20 kills to 16 for the Golden Gophers. Gibbemeyer paced Minnesota with seven kills in nine swings.
With Penn State lead 8-7 in the third set, the Nittany Lions expanded their lead with nine of the next 11 points to go up 17-9. Penn State expanded the lead to 20-10 after a kill by Darcy Dorton. The Nittany Lions moved on to claim the third set 25-14, as it outhit the Golden Gophers .341 to .029 in the final set.
Penn State was led by Hodge who had 21 kills and 11 digs in the match. Brown had 13 kills and 10 digs, while Arielle Wilson hit .533 (9-1-15) with nine kills and three blocks. Cathy Quilico and Alyssa D'Errico had 14 and 13 digs respectively, while Alisha Glass had 46 assists, 11 digs and three blocks.
Minnesota will be back on action when it travels to Illinois on Friday, Oct. 16 at 6:30 p.m. That match will be played Assembly Hall as part of the Illini's "Midnight Madness" festivities. The Golden Gophers will also travel to Northwestern on Saturday, Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. The Illinois match will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network on a tape-delayed basis on Sunday, Oct. 18 at 7 p.m. Both matches can be heard live in the Gold Zone.