The Minnesota volleyball team (14-5, 8-1) swept No. 11 Wisconsin (14-5, 6-3) in three games by scores of 30-20, 30-25, 30-28 on Wednesday, Oct. 18 at the Sports Pavilion. It marked the first time since Oct. 8, 2004, and the second time in the last three matches at home, that the Golden Gophers defeated Wisconsin in three games.
Minnesota’s win over Wisconsin was also the Golden Gophers' third win over a ranked opponent in the last 10 days. They have defeated No. 14 Ohio State (Oct. 8), No. 9 Purdue (Oct. 14) and No. 11 Wisconsin in that span.
“This was a great effort by our team tonight,” said Minnesota Head Coach Mike Hebert. “To be able to come in and put a quality effort in almost every phase of the game tonight against a team the caliber of Wisconsin was very gratifying. I am very happy with the way our team has played in this stretch where we have knocked off three quality ranked opponents in conference play over the last two weeks.”
Senior Meghan Cumpston (Red Bluff, Calif.) led the way offensively as she hit .379 (14-3-29) with 14 kills, had six digs and two service aces. Junior Jessy Jones (Naperville, Ill.) had 11 kills and seven blocks for the Golden Gophers on the night.
“I thought we did a good job of playing focused from start to finish tonight,” said Jones. “The coaching staff always tries to get us to focus on executing the aspects of the game plan and to mentally stay sharp and keep our focus from the start of warm-ups to the end of the match. I thought we did a great job of that tonight.”
Senior Meredith Nelson (St. Croix Falls, Wis.) had eight kills and six blocks for the Golden Gophers tonight. Kelly Bowman (Maple Grove, Minn.) had seven kills, 11 digs and two blocks for Minnesota in the match.
“I think our coaching staff did a great job of setting us up in position to try to force Wisconsin into hitting certain shots,” said Bowman. “We executed the game plan and tried to make things tough on Wisconsin. I think our execution and focus were extremely important factors in our performance tonight.”
Senior Malama Peniata (Plymouth, Minn.) had 19 digs, three assists and a service ace on the night. Sophomore setter Rachel Hartmann (St. Charles, Ill.) had 38 assists, four blocks and five digs on the night.
As a team, the Golden Gophers held Wisconsin to a .113 hitting percentage, which was .153 lower then the Badgers average entering the match. It was the fifth straight match against a ranked opponent that the Golden Gophers held a team at least .100 points under their season hitting percentage.
Minnesota hit .275 on the night, and outblocked Wisconsin by a 14.0-to-5.0 margin on the night. The Golden Gophers also had three service aces and did not have an ace recorded against them on the night.
Wisconsin jumped out to an early 4-3 lead in game one, but the Golden Gophers ripped off a 5-0 run to move ahead 8-4. The Badgers answered with seven of the next nine points to reclaim the lead at 11-10. Minnesota scored two of the next three points to tie the score at 12. Jones put the Golden Gophers back ahead at 13-12, and Peniata gave Minnesota a two-point lead when she had pushed the ball into the back corner for a kill to make it 14-12.
The two teams exchanged the next four points to make it 16-14. Minnesota pushed the lead out to four points at 18-14 after pair of Badger attack errors. The Badgers scored to make it 18-15, but Nelson and Jones came up with back-to-back solo blocks to expand the lead to 20-15.
Wisconsin scored the three of the next four points to cut the Golden Gopher lead to 21-18. Minnesota ripped off a 5-0 run to push its lead to a game-high eight points at 26-18. Jones got the run started with a kill, and Cumpston followed with another kill on an overpass by the Badgers to make it 23-18. Cumpston followed with another kill, and Cumpston and Bowman combined on a block to move ahead 25-18. Minnesota scored the next point to close out the run.
The Badgers scored two of the next three points to make it 27-20, but the Golden Gophers scored the next two points to make it game point at 29-20. Cumpston followed with a kill to give Minnesota game one 30-20.
Minnesota limited Wisconsin to a negative hitting percentage of -.022 in game one, and hit .243. The Golden Gophers also outblocked the Badgers in the game 7.0-to-2.0. Jones led the way with four kills and three digs in the game, while Cumpston had four kills as well. Peniata also finished with nine digs in the game.
The beginning of game two was a back and forth affair between the two teams. There were 11 ties and six lead changes on the way to a tie score of 12. Minnesota grabbed some momentum with three straight points to make it 15-12. Cumpston gave the Golden Gophers the 13-12 lead, and after Minnesota made it a two-point lead Hartmann added a kill to make it 15-12.
Wisconsin scored the next point to make it 15-13, but the Golden Gophers ran off five of the next seven points to go up 20-15. Jones and Roehrig combined on a block to give Minnesota a 17-13 lead. After a Wisconsin point, Hartmann delivered a kill and Jones followed with a solo block to make it 19-14. The Badgers made it 19-15, but Jones followed with a kill to close out the run.
The Badgers cut the lead down to three points at 22-19, but Cumpston followed with a kill and a service ace to expand the Golden Gopher lead to 24-19. Wisconsin rallied with six of the next eight points to cut the Minnesota lead to one at 26-25. Bowman halted the Badger momentum with a tough-angle shot to deliver a kill to make it 27-25. Following an attack error by the Badgers, Cumpston delivered a kill to give Minnesota game point at 29-25. Wisconsin had an attack error to give the Golden Gopher the final four points of game two, on the way to a 30-25 victory to make it 2-0 in the match.
Minnesota outhit Wisconsin .372 to .208 in game two, and had a narrow advantage in kills 20 to 18. The Golden Gophers also had two service aces to none for the Badgers. Cumpston led the way with six kills in the game.
In game three, Wisconsin jumped out to an early 8-6 lead. However, Minnesota responded with six of the next nine points to take a 12-11 lead. Wisconsin came back with the next two points to go up 13-12, but Nelson and Hartmann combined on a block to tie the game at 13. Jones gave the Golden Gophers the lead back with a kill to make it 14-13. Wisconsin scored the next point to tie the game at 14.
The teams exchanged the next two points to tie the game at 15. Minnesota moved ahead 16-15 when Jones and Roehrig combined on a block. Jones and Bowman followed that by combing on another block to make it 17-15. Wisconsin cut it to one at 17-16, but followed with a service error to give the Golden Gophers back a two-point lead at 18-16. The Badgers scored the next two points to tie the game at 18.
Cumpston followed with a kill and combined on a block with Nelson to give Minnesota two-point lead back at 20-18. Wisconsin cut the lead to 20-19, but Cumpston delivered another kill to make it 21-19. Nelson and Hartmann combined on a block to give Minnesota a three-point lead at 22-19. The Golden Gophers scored a third straight point on a Badger attack error to make it 23-19.
Wisconsin cut it to 23-20, but Roehrig followed with a kill to make it 24-20. The teams exchanged the next four points to make it 26-22. Wisconsin cut the lead to 26-24 with back-to-back points, but Jones answered with a kill to make it 27-24. The Badgers cut it to 27-25, but this time Nelson halted the momentum with a kill. Following a Golden Gopher service error, Nelson delivered a kill to make it match point at 29-26. Wisconsin trimmed it to 29-28, before Nelson finished the match with a kill to give Minnesota the three-game sweep.
Wisconsin was led by Brittney Dolger who had 13 kills, but was limited a .000 hitting percentage when she also committed 13 errors in 39 attempts. Maria Carlini also had 13 kills for the Badgers, while Jocelyn Wack had 16 digs. Jackie Simpson had 36 assists and 14 digs.
Minnesota will be back in action on Friday, Oct. 20 when it travels to Iowa City to face Iowa at 7 p.m. That match will be webcast on gophersports.com.