CoMinnesota (13-7, 6-2) moved into a tie for first place in the Big Ten as it defeated No. 13 Penn State (17-3, 6-2) by scores of 30-26, 30- 18, 30-21 on Saturday, Oct. 18 at Recreation Hall in State College, Pa. The Golden Gophers have now won six straight matches overall, and in Big Ten play.
It also is only the second time in school history that Minnesota has won at Penn State, and the first time it has won in three games.
In game one Penn State jumped out to a quick 9-6 lead. Minnesota scored seven of the next 11 points to tie the match at 13. The two teams exchanged points and found themselves tied for a 10th time in the game at 17. The Golden Gophers moved out to a 23-21 lead, but Penn State answered with a 4-0 run to go up 25-23. Minnesota answered with a 5-0 run of its own, keyed by two Cassie Busse (Prior Lake, Minn.) kills, to go back up 28-25. The Nittany Lions cut the lead to 28-26, but Trisha Bratford (Reseda, Calif.) put down a kill to give the Golden Gophers a 29-26 lead. Minnesota closed it out on the next point to claim game one 30-26. The Golden Gophers outhit the Nittany Lions .333 to .213 in the game. They also outblocked Penn State 5.0 to 2.0 in game one. Busse led the attack with six kills, while Meredith Nelson (St. Croix Falls, Wis.) had four blocks in the game.
Minnesota jumped out to a quick 12-5 lead in game two. However, Penn State rattled off six of the next seven points to cut the lead to 13- 11. The Golden Gophers came back with 10 of the next 13 points to take a 23-14 lead. Penn State cut the lead to 25-18, but that was as close as it got as Minnesota scored the last five points to take game two 30-18. The Golden Gophers finished the game off when Nelson and Bratford combined for a block. Minnesota out hit Penn State .205 to .020 in the game. The Golden Gophers also outblocked the Nittany Lions 7.0 to 2.0 in game two. Busse and Martin paced the attack with six and five kills respectively. Paula Gentil (Forteleaza Ceara', Brazil) had eight digs in the game, while Nelson had four blocks for the second straight game.
In game three Minnesota jumped out to an early 14-10 lead. The Golden Gophers extended that lead to 17-11 with three of the next four points. With the score at 20-15, Minnesota scored seven of the next eight points to go up 27-16. Penn State answered with three straight points to trim the lead to 27-19, but Martin answered with a kill to put Minnesota up 28-19. From that point the Golden Gophers moved to a 29-21 lead. Junior setter Lindsey Taatjes (Prinsburg, Minn.) put down the kill to end the game at 30-21, giving Minnesota the three-game victory.
Minnesota was led by Martin who hit a blistering .636 (15-1-22) in the match. Busse had 15 kills, seven digs, five blocks and two service aces. Bratfvord also had double-figure kills with 11, along with 10 digs and seven blocks. Nelson had her third straight match with double-figure blocks with 10 on the night. Taatjes had 44 assists, 13 digs and four kills. Gentil finished with a match-high 19 digs.
Penn State was led by Ashley Peterson who had 18 kills on the night.
Minnesota outblocked Penn State 16.5 to. 5.0 on the night. The Golden Gophers also outhit the Nittany Lions .288 to .106.
"The part I was most happy with tonight was our blocking," said Minnesota head coach Mike Hebert. "I thought we frustrated Penn State into some tough shots. Blocking is one of the hardest aspects of the game to execute, so the fact that we blocked so well tonight was an indication of how focused we were."
The Golden Gophers return home from their four-match road trip to play Michigan at home on Friday, Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. Minnesota will also play Michigan State at home on Saturday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m.