The Minnesota volleyball team (16-6, 10-2) had its six-match winning streak snapped as it fell to No. 2 Penn State (22-1, 11-1) in five games by scores of 21-30, 30-12, 26-30, 30-24, 15-13 in front of 4,986 fans on Saturday, Oct. 28 at the Sports Pavilion. The attendance of 4,986 was the ninth-highest total to see at match the Sports Pavilion.
Minnesota's loss also snapped a 12-match home winning streak.
Senior Meredith Nelson (St. Croix Falls, Wis.) led the way offensively with 13 kills and four blocks, while Meghan Cumpston (Red Bluff, Calif.) had 13 kills, 11 digs and four service aces.
Senior Kelly Bowman (Maple Grove, Minn.) finished with 11 kills, eight assists and 10 digs. Kyla Roehrig (Papillion, Neb.) also had 11 kills and two blocks.
Senior libero Malama Peniata (Plymouth, Minn.) had 14 digs, three assists and two service aces. Sophomore setter Rachel Hartmann (St. Charles, Ill.) also finished with 45 assists, 12 digs, tied a career-high with four kills and had four blocks.
“I thought tonight was a great effort by our team,” said Minnesota Head Coach Mike Hebert. “This was a match that was decided by a couple of breaks here and there, and matter of inches. It was highly competitive match in which both teams fought real hard. Both teams did a good job of bouncing back several times when it looked like the other had all the momentum. It is a disappointing loss, but we need to get over it quickly and focus on the rest of the Big Ten schedule."
Minnesota was up 2-1 in the match, and led 21-16 in game four. However, Penn State scored 14 of the final 17 points in the game to even it up and send it to a fifth game.
Penn State scored the first point of the fifth game, before Bowman delivered a kill, and combined on a block with Nelson to make it 2-1. The Nittany Lions evened it at 2-2, but Nelson answered with a kill to make it 3-2. Nicole Fawcett answered with a kill for Penn State to make it 3-3, but Peniata delivered a kill when she pushed a ball into the back corner after Hartmann’s dump attempt had been blocked.
The Nittany Lions evened the scored at 4-4 on a Golden Gopher service error. Nelson put the Golden Gophers ahead 5-4, but Penn State evened it by scoring the next point. Minnesota went ahead 6-5 on a Nittany Lion service error, but Penn State rattled off the next two points to take its second lead of the game at 7-6.
Cumpston delivered a kill to tie the score at seven. Following a Christa Harmotto kill for the Nittany Lions, Bowman answered with a kill of her own to make it 8-8. The two teams exchanged the next two points to reach the ninth tie of the game at 9-9.
Penn State took the first two-point lead of the game at 11-9 with consecutive points. Both teams followed with service errors to make it 12-10. Roehrig delivered a kill to cut the Nittany Lion lead to 12-11. Following an attack error that made it 13-11, Jones delivered a kill to cut it to 13-12. Minnesota forced Megan Hodge into an attack error to tie it at 13.
In a match that was decided by a matter of inches it looked as if Hartmann had delivered a service ace, but Penn State barely kept the point alive on a great serve receive play and turned it into a kill for Hodge to make it match point at 14-13. Hodge finished the match on the next point to give Penn State the five-game victory.
“The toughest part of the match to look back on is the fourth game,” said Nelson. “We had control of the match and a chance to win it, and they pushed back real hard. We just did not make a enough plays to finish the match off. I think we did a great job of leaving everything out there on the floor tonight, and everyone contributed throughout the match. It is a tough loss to take, but we need to rebound and continue to play well the rest of conference play.”
The two teams headed into a game three tied at a game apiece. Minnesota took an early 6-5, and went on a 4-0 run to expand it to 10-5. Penn State cut the lead to 10-6, but Jones followed with a kill to make it 11-6. Minnesota scored the next point to make it 12-6. Penn State made it 12-7, but Cumpston delivered a kill to make it 13-7. The Nittany Lions immediately responded with a 6-0 run to tie it at 13 to force a Golden Gopher timeout.
Out of the timeout Bowman delivered a kill to make it 14-13, and Cumpston followed with another one to give Minnesota a 15-13 lead. Penn State cut it to 15-14, but committed a hitting error to make it 16-14. The Nittany Lions cut the lead to 16-15, but Nelson followed with a kill to make it 17-15. Jones followed with a solo block and combined with Hartmann on another block to make it 19-15. The teams traded the next six points to make it 22-18.
Penn State cut the lead to 22-19, but Cumpston followed with a kill to make it 23-19. With the score at 23-20, Bowman delivered a kill to make it 24-20. After the Nittany Lions cut the lead to 24-21, Cumpston and Roehrig delivered back-to-back kills to move the Golden Gophers ahead by five points at 26-21. Penn State cut the lead to 28-24, before committing an attack error to give Minnesota game point at 29-24. Penn State fought off a pair of game points to bring the score to 29-26. On the next point, Roehrig and Jones combined to block Hodge to give the Golden Gophers a 2-1 lead in the match.
Minnesota outhit Penn State .275 to .195 in the game, and outblocked the Nittany Lions 4.0-to-1.0 in the game. Cumpston led the Golden Gophers with five kills in the game.
Penn State jumped out to an early 4-3 lead in game four, but the Golden Gophers surged ahead 7-4 with four straight points. The Nittany Lions answered with three of the next four points to cut it to 8-7. Jones followed with a kill to make it 9-7. Penn State cut it back to 9-8, but Bowman followed with a kill to make it 10-8. The Nittany Lions reclaimed the lead at 11-10 with three straight points.
Minnesota scored the next two points to claim the lead back at 12-11. The Golden Gophers tied after a long rally led to a Nittany Lion attack error. On the next play Ha
Minnesota got out of the gates quickly in game one with an 8-1 run. Following a Penn State timeout, the Nittany Lions scored three of the next four points to cut the lead to 9-4. Nelson halted Penn State’s momentum and Cumpston delivered a service ace to make it 11-4. Penn State cut it to 12-6, but Jones followed with a kill. Minnesota followed with the next point to move ahead 14-6.
Penn State grabbed some momentum when it scored seven of the next nine points to cut the Golden Gopher lead to 16-13. Minnesota scored the next point to slow down the Nittany Lions momentum, and moved ahead 18-13 when Hartmann and Nelson combined on a block. The Nittany Lions scored the next two points to cut the Minnesota lead to 18-15, but Cumspton delivered a kill to move ahead 19-15. Roehrig followed with a kill, and Cumpston delivered a service ace to take a 21-15 lead.
The Nittany Lions cut the lead to 22-17, before the Golden Gophers answered with four of the next five points to take a 26-18 lead. Roehrig delivered a kill to start the run, and followed with a solo block to push the score to 24-17. After the Nittany Lions scored to make it 24-18, Jones and Cumpston responded with consecutive kills to make it 26-18.
Penn State scored the next two points to make it 26-20, but the Golden Gophers halted the Nittany Lions momentum with a point to make it 27-20. Cumpston had a solo block, and Peniata followed with a service ace to make it game point at 29-20. Penn State fought off the first game point to make it 29-21, but Nelson delivered a kill to give Minnesota game one 30-21.
The 21 points was the lowest total by the Nittany Lions in a game this year. Minnesota outhit Penn State .323 to .216 in the first game, and had four service aces to one for the Nittany Lions. Penn State narrowly edged the Golden Gophers in kills 15-to-14, while the Minnesota outblocked the Nittany Lions 3.0-to-2.0 in the game. Nelson led the Golden Gophers with four kills in the game.
Penn State responded by seizing the early momentum in game two. With the score tied at 2-2, the Nittany Lions ripped off 12 of the 15 points to move out to a 14-5 lead. The Nittany Lions extended their lead out to 23-9, before Nelson delivered a kill to make it 23-10. Penn State ran off a 5-0 run to move the lead to 28-10. Minnesota scored two of the next three points to make it 29-11. However, Megan Hodge finished the game with a kill to give the Nittany Lions the second game.
The Nittany Lions did not commit an error game two, recording 15 kills in 28 swings. Penn State also held Minnesota to a -.056 hitting percentage, and outblocked the Golden Gophers 4.5-to-0.0 in the game. Nelson led Minnesota with four kills in the game, while Hodge and Melissa Walbridge had six and five respectively for the Nittany Lions. The 12 points was the lowest point total of the year for Minnesota in a game.
Minnesota was outhit .298 to .182 in the match, and had 62 kills to 75 for the Nittany Lions. The Golden Gophers were narrowly outblocked 12.5-to-10.0. Penn State also had nine service aces to six for Minnesota.
Penn State was led by Hodge who had 17 kills, 11 digs and four service aces. Fawcett had 17 kills, five digs and two service aces, while Harmotto had 17 kills and hit .483 (17-3-29) on the night with seven blocks. Melissa Walbridge also had 14 kills, hit .500 (14-2-24) and had five blocks. Setter Alisha Glass had 60 assists, 10 digs and four blocks.
Minnesota will be back in action on Friday, Nov. 4 at 6 p.m. (CT) when it travels to East Lansing to face Michigan State. The Golden Gophers will also face Michigan on Saturday, Nov. 5 at 6 p.m. (CT).