placeThe No. 23 Minnesota volleyball team needed five games to defeat Ohio State, 15-5, 15-10, 11-15, 13-15, 15-9, in a Big Ten match at St. John Arena. Minnesota moves into sole possession of second place in the Big Ten and improves to 8-1 in the conference and 17-4 overall.
Stephanie Hagen had a career-high 20 kills to lead four Gophers in double figures. Nicole Branagh had 18 kills, Charnette Fair added a career-high 13 kills and Yvonne Wichert notched 10 kills to lead the Gopher attack. Minnesota outblocked the Buckeyes 21-12, with Hagen accumulating a career-high 11 blocks.
In the decisive fifth game, Minnesota took a 3-2 lead on a solo block by Branagh and did not trail for the remainder of the rally-scored game. Hagen had four of Minnesota's eight kills, as the Gophers hit .636 compared to the Buckeyes' .000 in the final game. Minnesota also had a 5-0 edge in blocks in the last game, with Hagen contributing on three of the blocks.
"Our middle hitters were the difference in the match tonight," said Minnesota coach Mike Hebert. "Stephanie Hagen played one of the best matches of her career. This is a huge road win for us."
Minnesota broke a 4-4 tie in the first game with seven consecutive points and cruised to a 15-5 victory. Wichert was the key player in the rally for Minnesota with two kills and two solo blocks. She had six kills and three blocks in the opening game. Minnesota outblocked the Buckeyes, 5-2, and held Ohio State to a .100 hitting percentage in the first game.
The Gophers rallied from a 6-1 deficit to win the second game, 15-10. Minnesota scored four straight points on the serves of Branagh and Fair to pull to within 6-5. After trading points, Minnesota took its first lead of the game at 9-8 on a kill by Fair. After ties at 9 and 10, Minnesota scored four points on Linda Shudlick's serve to take a 14-10 lead. After a pair of sideouts, Ohio State hit the ball out of bounds to give Minnesota a two-game advantage. Fair and Hagen each had seven kills in the second game and helped Minnesota hit .417 for the game.
After losing the first three points of the third game, Ohio State recovered to win the third game, 15-11. After committing just 11 hitting errors in the first two games, Minnesota had 11 errors in the third game and hit -.024 as a team. Ohio State had a 14-10 edge in kills in the game despite seven Minnesota blocks.
The fourth game featured seven lead changes. Down 7-6, Ohio State scored five straight points to take an 11-7 lead. Minnesota responded with five points on the serves of Branagh and Susan Shudlick to take a 12-11 lead. Ohio State scored four of the last five points to win the game, 15-13, and even the match. The Buckeyes outhit the Gophers in the fourth game .265-.115, and held a 4-1 advantage in blocks.
The Gophers complete their two-match road trip against top-ranked Penn State tonight at 6:30 p.m. (CDT).
BIG TEN STANDINGS Penn State 9-0 19-1 Minnesota 8-1 17-4 Illinois 7-2 11-4 Wisconsin 5-4 12-7 Indiana 4-5 13-5 Michigan State 4-5 14-7 Purdue 4-6 12-7 Michigan 3-6 11-7 Ohio State 3-6 9-7 Iowa 3-6 4-12 Northwestern 0-9 2-17 Friday's Results Minnesota d. Ohio State, 3-2 (15-5, 15-10, 11-15, 13-15, 15-9) Penn State d. Iowa, 3-0 (15-5, 15-5, 15-4) Indiana d. Michigan, 3-0 (15-8, 15-11, 15-10) Michigan State d. Illinois, 3-0 (15-9, 15-6, 17-15) Purdue d. Northwestern, 3-2 (15-11, 15-12, 6-15, 9-15, 15-13) Saturday's Matches Minnesota at Penn State, 6:30 Iowa at Ohio State Michigan State at Indiana Michigan at Illinois Wisconsin at Northwestern