hThe Minnesota volleyball team (21-2, 10-1) defeated Northwestern (7- 14, 2-9) in three games by scores of 30-17, 30-17, 30-24 on Friday, Oct. 29 at Welsh Ryan Arena. With the win, the Golden Gophers have now won 20 of their last 21 matches.
With the three game sweep, Minnesota has now won its last 13 games on the road, spanning its last five road matches (Penn State, Iowa, Indiana, Purdue, Northwestern).
Trisha Bratford (Reseda, Calif.) led the attack for Minnesota with 13 kills on the night. Bratford hit a career-high .520 (13-0-25), and did not have an error for in a match for the second time this season. Lindsey Taatjes (Prinsburg, Minn.) also narrowly missed a triple- double with nine kills, 15 assists and a team-high 11 digs. Taatjes also hit a career-high .727 (9-1-11) on the night. Kelly Bowman (Maple Grove, Minn.) led Minnesota with 27 assists, and also had eight digs and four kills.
Meredith Nelson (St. Croix Falls, Wis.) also had eight kills and four blocks, while Jessica Byrnes (Minnetonka, Minn.) hit 1.000 (5-0- 5) on the night.
Northwestern jumped out to an early 5-2 lead in game one, but Minnesota came right back with six straight points to move ahead. During that span, Meredith Nelson (St. Croix Falls, Wis.) had a kill and was in on two blocks, while Marci Peniata (Plymouth, Minn.) registered a pair of service aces. Northwestern scored the next point to cut the lead to 8-6, but the Golden Gophers ran off the next four points to go up 12-6 to force Northwestern to call a timeout.
The score moved to 17-12, before Minnesota rattled off five straight points to push its lead to 10 points at 22-12. Northwestern cut the lead to 22-14 with the next two points. However, the Golden Gophers answered with four straight points to take a 26-14 lead. The Wildcats cut it to 26-16, but Minnesota ran off four of final five points to claim game one 30-17.
Minnesota held Northwestern to a -.209 (6-15-43) hitting percentage in game one. The Golden Gophers had 12 kills to just six for the Wildcats. Minnesota also outblocked Northwestern 6.0-to.2.0. Bratford paced the Golden Gophers with four kills and three blocks, while Taatjes had a game-high six digs.
The Wildcats jumped out to a 5-3 lead in game two, but Minnesota reversed the momentum with five of the next six points to take an 8-6 lead. During that run, Lisa Reinhart (White Bear Lake, Minn.) had two service aces. Northwestern cut the lead to 10-9, but Minnesota rattled off six of the next eight points to take a 16-11 lead. The Golden Gophers pushed the lead out to 19-13. Northwestern scored the next point to cut it to 19-14, but Minnesota answered with nine of the next 10 points to take a 28-15 lead. The Wildcats scored the next two points to cut it to 28-17, but committed a service error to give the Golden Gophers game point at 29-17. Amanda Hokenson (Anoka, Minn.) put away kill to give Minnesota the second game 30-17.
Minnesota hit .650 (15-2-20) in game two, its highest hitting percentage a game this season. The Golden Gophers also limited Northwestern to a .185 hitting percentage in the game. Reinhart had three service aces in the game, while Taatjes and Nelson each had four kills.
The Golden Gophers jumped out to a slim 5-4 lead in game three, but used a 5-0 run to push the score out to 10-4. Northwestern cut the lead to 11-6, but Minnesota scored the next three points to move ahead 14-6. The Golden Gophers pushed the lead out to 19-10, before the Wildcats scored three straight points to cut the lead to 19-13. Northwestern cut the lead down to five points at 25-20, but Minnesota ran off four of the next five points to push it to match point at 29- 21. Northwestern fought off three match points to cut it to 29-24, but Taatjes put down a kill to give Minnesota the match.
Minnesota outhit Northwestern .351 to .026 on the night, and had 47 kills to the Wildcats 32. The Golden Gophers also outblocked Northwestern 10.0-to-4.0, and had 44 digs to 30 for the Wildcats.
Northwestern was led by Julie Purcell who had 11 kills on the night. Lindsey Anderson also had eight kill and four digs for the Wildcats.
Minnesota will finish up the road swing with a match against Wisconsin on Saturday, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. The Minnesota-Wisconsin match will be shown on ESPN 2 on a tape-delay basis on Sunday, Oct. 31 at 12 noon (CT).