The 12th-ranked Minnesota volleyball team (15-3, 5-1) saw its five-match winning streak end as No. 1 Penn State (18-0, 6-0) defeated the Golden Gophers in three sets by scores of 25-18, 25-15, 25-12 at Williams Arena in front of 10,126 fans on Saturday, Oct. 11.
Tonight’s attendance of 10,126 was the second-highest in school history. Minnesota’s best attendance in school history came on Oct. 16, 2004 when it defeated Illinois in front of 10,927 fans at Williams Arena. Minnesota also raised $1,500 for Sideout Foundation with tonight’s “Dig Pink” night.
Minnesota was outblocked by the top ranked Nittany Lions 14.0-to-2.0, ending a streak of 18 straight matches, dating back to 2007, that the Golden Gophers had outblocked their opposition. In the match, Minnesota was held to a season-low .033 hitting percentage, while Penn State hit .447 on the night.
The Nittany Lions had 45 kills to 27 for Minnesota, and outdug the Golden Gophers 32 to 25 on the night.
“I thought we came out with a lot of emotion and played well for the first 10 minutes of the match,” said Minnesota Head Coach Mike Hebert. “Towards the end of the first set, Penn State just took over and really dominated the rest of the match. We did not hold up quite as well as I would have liked, but it is incredibly tough to do so against that Penn State team. They really have no weaknesses, and perform well in every aspect of the game. That is the best team I have seen in the Big Ten since I have been in the league.”
With the win, Penn State has now won 31 straight Big Ten matches, has won all 51 sets it has played this year and moved its winning streak to 44 dating back to last year’s run to the national title.
Minnesota was led by Brook Dieter (Bloomington, Minn.) who had 13 kills and six digs on the night. Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minn.) had a pair of solo blocks on the night and finished with four kills. Hailey Cowles (Eden Prairie, Minn.) also had four kills and four digs.
Christine Tan (Safety Harbor, Fla.) finished with six digs and a service ace, while senior Rachel Hartmann (St. Charles, Ill.) had 23 assists on the night.
Minnesota jumped out to a 6-2 lead to start the first set, but Penn State rallied quickly with five of the next six points to tie the set at seven. The Nittany Lions took their first lead of the set at 9-8, and extended it out to 13-10 with four of the next six points. Luiz answered with a kill, and after a Penn State attack error Dieter tied the set at 13 with a kill.
The Nittany Lions responded with six of the next eight points to push their lead out to 19-15 to force a Golden Gophers timeout. Out of the timeout, Minnesota cut the lead to 19-17 on consecutive points, which featured a kill by Luiz. Penn State responded with six of the final seven points to close out the first with a 25-18 victory.
Penn State outhit Minnesota .353 to .053 in the first set and had 15 kills to 11 for the Golden Gophers. Minnesota was helped out by four Nittany Lion service errors in the set. Dieter led the Golden Gophers with four kills in the set.
Minnesota jumped out to a 4-3 lead in the second set, but Penn State promptly ripped off seven of the next eight points to take a 10-5 lead to force a Golden Gopher timeout. Out of the timeout, Penn State scored three of the next four points to take a 13-6 lead. Dieter and Cowles had back-to-back kills to make it 13-8, but the Nittany Lions pushed their lead out to 16-9 with three of the next four points.
After a Penn State service error made it 16-10, the Nittany Lions scored the next three points to take a 19-10 lead. Minnesota scored three of the next four points, and cut the lead to 20-13 on a Gibbemeyer kill. However, Penn State rolled off five of the final seven points and won the set 25-15 on an Arielle Wilson kill.
Minnesota was outhit .545 to .000 in the second set, and Penn State also outblocked the Golden Gophers 6.0-to-1.0 in the set. Dieter and Cowles each had three kills in the set for Minnesota.
The Golden Gopher led 2-1 in the third set, before Penn State scored nine of the next 11 points to make it 10-4. A kill by Kyle Roehrig (Papillion, Neb.) cut the lead to 11-6, but the Nittany Lions six of the next eight points to move ahead 17-8. Minnesota cut it to 18-10 on a kill by Gibbemeyer, but Penn State scored seven of the next nine points to move on to the three-set victory.
The three-set loss was the Golden Gophers first at home since Oct. 26, 2007 when they lost in three to Penn State at the Sports Pavilion.
Penn State was led by Megan Hodge who had 15 kills on the match. Wilson hit .692 (10-1-13) with 10 kills and three blocks the Nittany Lions. Christa Harmotto hit .545 (7-1-11) with seven kills and nine blocks, while Alisha Glass had 34 assists, nine blocks and four digs. Roberta Holehouse had a match-high 13 digs.
Minnesota will be back in action on Wednesday, Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. when it hosts Iowa at the Sports Pavilion. That match will be televised live on the Big Ten Network.