he Minnesota volleyball team (23-8, 14-5) defeated Northwestern in (16-16, 7-13) three sets by scores of 25-19, 25-20, 25-21 at the Sports Pavilion on Friday, Nov. 27. With the victory and a Michigan loss to Ohio State, the Golden Gophers clinched third place in the Big Ten.
Minnesota was led by junior middle blocker Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minn.) who hit .524 (13-2-21) with 13 kills and eight blocks. It marked the 17th match this year that Gibbemeyer has hit over .400. Freshman outside hitter Tabitha Love (Dauphin, Manitoba) collected 13 kills and three blocks on the night.
Junior outside hitter Hailey Cowles (Eden Prairie, Minn.) finished the night with eight kills, 15 digs, three service aces and two blocks. Freshman Katherine Harms (Albertville, Minn.) also had seven kills, a career-high five assists, three blocks and a service ace. Senior libero Christine Tan (Safety Harbor, Fla.) had 21 digs, while senior setter Taylor Carico (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) finished with 31 assists, 12 digs and two blocks.
Minnesota outhit Northwestern .220 to .053, and had 43 kills to 32 for the Wildcats. The Golden Gophers also outblocked Northwestern 12.0-to-7.0, and had 62 digs to 57. Both teams finished with five service aces.
In the first set, Minnesota jumped out to a 7-5 lead after a kill by Love. Northwestern answered with three straight points to take an 8-7 lead, but the Golden Gopher scored the next four points to make it 11-8 paced by kills from Love and Ariana Filho (Monument, Colo.). The Wildcats cut it to 11-10, but Minnesota scored five of the next six points and moved ahead 16-11 when Gibbemeyer and Harms combined on consecutive blocks.Minnesota expanded the lead to 19-13 on a service ace by Cowles. The Wildcats answered with three of the next four points to cut the lead to 20-16. The Golden Gophers responded with four straight points and moved it to set point at 24-16 when Filho and Megan Wilson (Lincoln, Neb.) combined on a block. Northwestern followed with three straight points, but Love put away the set with a kill to give Minnesota the set 25-19.
The Golden Gophers outhit Northwestern .244 to .035 in the set, and had 13 kills to 12 for the Wildcats. Love led the way with six kills, while Harms had four kills in six swings.
Minnesota ran out to a 10-3 lead in the second set after Gibbemeyer and Love combined on a block. Northwestern cut the lead to 12-8 with five of the next seven points. However, the Golden Gophers answered with three straightpoints and move ahead 15-8 on a service ace by Jessica Granquist (Blaine, Minn.). The Wildcats responded with seven of the next eight points to trim the Gopher lead to 16-15.
The two teams sided out until the score moved to 20-19. At that point, Minnesota sandwiched a kill by Love and a combined block by Cowles and Filho around a Wildcat attack error to make it 23-19. Cowles followed with a kill to make it set point at 24-19. After Northwestern fought off set point, Harms finished the set with a kill.
Minnesota outhit Northwestern .314 to .091, and had 17 kills to nine for the Wildcats. Cowles and Gibbemeyer paced the Golden Gophers with five kills each.
In the third set, Minnesota stormed out to a 13-3 lead. However, Northwestern came back with 13 of the next 16 points to tie the set at 16. Gibbemeyer answered with a solo block, and Cowles followed with a kill to make it 18-16. With the score at 19-17, Gibbemeyer had sandwiched two kills around a combined block with Carico to move the score to 22-17. The Golden Gophers moved it to match point on a block by Filho and Carico, and put away the match at 25-21 after a kill by Love.
Northwestern was led by Sabel Moffett who had 11 kills and five blocks. Setter Elyse Glab also had 27 assists, nine digs and two blocks. Alexandra Ayers, Kate Nobilio and Julie Chin finished with 14, 12 and 11 digs respectively.
Minnesota will be back in action when it hosts No. 5 Illinois on Saturday, Nov. 28 at 7 p.m. That match can be heard live on the Gold Zone.
The NCAA Selection Show will take place on Sunday, Nov. 29 at 2 p.m. on ESPNews. Minnesota will host the NCAA Regionals on Dec. 11 and 12. The NCAA Regional Semifinals matches on Friday, Dec. 11 will take place at 5 and 7 p.m. On Saturday, the NCAA Regional Final match will be at 5:30 p.m. That match can be seen live on ESPNU.