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Last season the road team was the victor in the Minnesota-Penn State series, and after a Golden Gopher win at Penn State (20-2, 11-2) on Oct. 2, the Nittany Lions returned the favor for a second straight season as they defeated Minnesota (21-4, 10-3) in four games by scores of 32-30, 30-28, 22- 30, 30-26 in front of 4,405 fans at the Sports Pavilion on Friday, Nov. 5. The loss gives Minnesota a two-match losing streak for the first time since Nov. 7- 8, 2003.
The 4,405 fans was the 12th largest attendance in school history.
Tonight's loss dropped Minnesota to third place in the Big Ten at 10- 3. Penn State moves into second by itself at 11-2, while league-leading Ohio State comes into the Sports Pavilion on Saturday, Nov. 6 with a record of 12-1 after defeating Iowa tonight.
"Tonight we just had problems executing the things that have made us a good team all season," said Minnesota head coach Mike Hebert. "Penn State did a good job of taking some of those things away, but we also struggled to get on track tonight. Jen Bowman did a great job in game three of coming in and giving us a lift in game three, but we could not get enough going against a very good Penn State team to take game four."
Meredith Nelson (St. Croix Falls, Wis.) hit .344 (14-3-32) with 14 kills, five blocks and four digs for Minnesota on the night. Erin Martin (Ames, Iowa) led the team with 16 kills for the match, while Jessica Byrnes (Minnetonka, Minn.) had 13 kills and four blocks. Trisha Bratford (Reseda, Calif.) also had 13 kills and five blocks for the Golden Gophers.
Paula Gentil (Forteleza Ceara', Brazil) had a match-high 30 digs, giving her 77 digs in two matches against Penn State this season. Lindsey Taatjes had seven kills, 37 assists and 19 digs for Minnesota. Lisa Reinhart (White Bear Lake, Minn.) finished with a season-high 16 digs, while Jen Bowman (Maple Grove, Minn.) came off the bench in the last two games with 14 assists and five digs. Kelly Bowman (Maple Grove, Minn.) also had seven kills, 10 assists and nine digs.
Penn State narrowly outhit Minnesota .180 to .173, but held Martin to a .091 (16-12-44) hitting percentage and Bratford to a .083 (13-9-43) hitting percentage.
In the first game, Minnesota stormed out to a 17-11 lead. However, Penn State ran off nine of the next 11 points to wrestle away the lead at 20-19. Minnesota answered with five of the next seven points to take a 24-22 lead, but Penn State came back with a 5-2 run of its own to take a 27-26 lead. The Nittany Lions scored two of the next three points to move it to game point at 29-27. Minnesota fought off two game points to tie it at 29. Penn State moved it to game point again at 30-29, but Kelly Bowman put down a kill to tie it at 30. Penn State's Ashley Pederson delivered a kill to make it game point, and Penn State closed out the first game at 32-30.
Penn State outhit Minnesota .150 to .086 in the first game. Bratford paced the Golden Gophers with four kills in the game, while Gentil had 10 digs.
Minnesota fell behind early in the second game at 13-11. The Golden Gophers tied it at 13, but Penn State held Minnesota at bay and pushed the lead to three at 20-17. The Nittany Lions extended it out to 23-19, before Minnesota scored five of the next eight points to cut it to 26-24. The Nittany Lions pushed the lead out to 28-24, and moved it to game point at 29- 25. Martin delivered a kill and a solo block to fight off two game points to make it 29-27. Nelson followed with a block to cut it to 29-28, but Cassy Salyer put down a block to give Penn State the game at 30-28 to put them up 2-0 in the match.
The Nittany Lions outhit the Golden Gophers .226 to .145 in the game, and outblocked Minnesota 7.0-to-3.0. Martin led the attack with five kills in the game, while Gentil and Reinhart had 10 and seven digs respectively.
Minnesota moved out to an early 12-10 lead, and extended it to 21-15 with nine of the next 14 points. Penn State scored the next three points to cut the lead to 21-18, but Minnesota came right back with three straight to move ahead 24-18. The Golden Gophers pushed the lead to a game-high seven points at 27-20. After two straight points by the Nittany Lions cut it to 27-22, Nelson had a kill and combined on a block with Bratford to move it to game point at 29-22. Nelson and Jen Bowman combined on a block to give Minnesota game three 30-22.
The Golden Gophers outhit Penn State .250 to .020 in game three, and outblocked the Nittany Lions 7.0-to-4.0. Nelson had six kills and three blocks in the game, while Gentil had eight digs.
Minnesota jumped out to a 7-3 lead in game four, but Penn State halted the Golden Gophers momentum with seven straight points to take a 10-7 lead. Minnesota cut the lead to one on several occasions, including, 18-17. However, Penn State scored four straight points to push it out to 21- 17. Bratford and Martin put down consecutive kills to cut it to 21-19, but Penn State answered with five of the next seven points to push the lead to 26-21. Minnesota fell behind 28-23, but Byrnes had consecutive kills and Bratford followed with one to make it 28-26. Kim Holm and Syndie Nadeau recorded back-to-back kills for Penn State to close out the match.
Penn State outblocked Minnesota 16.0-to-13.0 on the night, but Minnesota outdug the Nittany Lions 96 to 90 and had 71 kills to Penn State's 64. The Golden Gophers committed 35 errors to 27 for the Nittany Lions.
The Nittany Lions were led by Nadeau who hit .348 (19-3-46) with 19 kills and 13 digs. Salyer had 12 kills and 10 blocks, while Kate Price had 14 kills. Setter Sam Tortorello also had 54 assists, nine digs and eight blocks.
Minnesota will host Ohio State on Saturday, Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. The Buckeyes lead the Big Ten with a 12-1 conference record.