MinnesLindsey Berg served a career-high eight aces to lead the 19th-ranked Minnesota volleyball team to a 15-12, 15-5, 15-10 victory over Northwestern. Minnesota maintains its second-place position in the Big Ten with a 12-2 record and improves its overall record to 21-5.
Nicole Branagh led Minnesota with 12 kills, while Stephanie Hagen added 11 kills and six blocks. The Gophers had a .276-.137 advantage in hitting percentage and outblocked the Wildcats, 12-3.
"I am pleased every time that we win a Big Ten match on the road," said Minnesota head coach Mike Hebert. "We have put ourselves in great position for the final part of the season."
The Wildcats were the aggressors to start the match, serving three aces en route to a 10-4 lead in the first game. Berg served three points, including two aces, to cut the Wildcat lead to 10-7. Charnette Fair landed a kill to continue the run, and Susan Shudlick served six consecutive points, including two aces, to give Minnesota a 14-10 lead. The Wildcats scored the next two points, but a Branagh kill gave Minnesota the first game, 15-12.
Minnesota started the second game strong, scoring six points on Branagh's serve to take a 7-1 lead. Northwestern scored three of the next four points to pull to within 8-4, but got no closer to the Gophers in the second game. Minnesota held Northwestern to a .079 hitting percentage in the second game with 12 digs and five team blocks.
Berg served the first four points of the third game, including her fifth and sixth aces of the night. Northwestern cut the Gopher lead to 7-6, but Berg returned to the service line and served four more points, including two aces, to increase the Minnesota advantage to 11-6. The Wildcats cut the Gopher lead to 11-9, but Minnesota scored five of the final six points to seal the match.
The Gophers, who own a three-match advantage over Wisconsin and Illinois for second place in the Big Ten, will play a non-conference match at Wis.-Green Bay on Sunday at noon.
BIG TEN STANDINGS Penn State 13-0 23-1 Minnesota 12-2 21-5 Wisconsin 8-5 15-8 Illinois 8-5 12-7 Michigan St. 7-6 17-8 Purdue 6-7 15-8 Ohio State 6-7 12-8 Indiana 5-8 14-8 Michigan 4-9 12-10 Iowa 3-10 4-16 Northwestern 0-13 2-21 Friday's Matches Minnesota d. Northwestern, 3-0 (15-12, 15-5, 15-10) Penn State d. Indiana, 3-0 (15-6, 15-2, 15-2) Michigan State d. Wisconsin, 3-0 (16-14, 15-9, 15-12) Purdue d. Michigan, 3-2 (15-7, 15-11, 3-15, 17-19, 15-12) Ohio State d. Illinois, 3-0 (15-8, 15-13, 15-9) Saturday's Matches Ohio State at Indiana Purdue at Michigan State Wisconsin at Michigan Penn State at Illinois Iowa at Northwestern Sunday's Match Minnesota at Wisconsin-Green Bay, noon