Minnesota Defeats Penn State in Five Sets Minnesota extended its winning streak to seven matches as it defeated No. 7 Penn State on Saturday, Nov. 27.
The 15th-ranked Minnesota volleyball team (24-8, 14-6) extended its winning streak to seven matches as it defeated No. 7 Penn State (26-5, 16-4) for the first time since 2004 at the Sports Pavilion on Saturday, Nov. 27. After losing the first two sets, the Gophers pushed through and beat the Nittany Lions in five sets by scores of 14-25, 21-25, 26-24, 25-23, 23-21.
With the victory and a loss by Illinois to Purdue tonight, Minnesota finished tied with the Illini for second place in the Big Ten at 14-6. The Golden Gophers had a 9-1 record in the second half of Big Ten play after starting 5-5 in conference play. Since 2008, Minnesota is 25-3 in the month of November.
After the Gophers fell behind 2-0 in the match, they rallied to send the match to a fifth set. The fifth set saw 14 tie scores and seven lead changes in the battle to push for the win. The Gophers outhit Penn State .212 (17-6-52) to .184 (13-4-49) in the fifth set.
Minnesota jumped out to an 11-8 lead in the fifth set on a kill by Katherine Harms (Albertville, Minn.). Penn State responded with five of the next six points to make it match point at 14-12. Gibbemeyer answered with consecutive kills and Ashley Wittman (Shakopee, Minn.) made it match point at 15-14. Penn State fought off match point, and had three match points of their own. However, the Gophers fought off the third one to tie the score at 18.
Mia Tabberson (Muncie, Ind.) followed with a service ace, but Deja McClendon answered with a kill to tie the set. Tori Dixon (Burnsville, Minn.( followed with a kill to make it match point at 20-19. McClendon tied it at 20 with a kill, but Dixon followed with a kill to make it 21-20. After Penn State tied it at 21, Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minn.) and Wittman combined to block Blair Brown to make it match point at 22-21. Gibbemeyer finished the match with a kill to give the Gophers the 23-21 fifth-set victory.
Lauren Gibbemeyer had a fitting senior night as she had a career-high 25 kills, hit .375 (25-4-56) and collected eight blocks. Wittman had a double-double on the night with 16 kills and 21 digs. Dixon and Harms each had two service aces and 12 kills on offense.
Junior libero Jessica Granquist (Blaine, Minn.) finished with a team-high of 24 digs, while Steffi Sooter (Santa Cruz, Calif.) had 14. Harms also had 13 digs, while sophomore setter Mia Tabberson (Muncie, Ind.) ended the night with a career-high 59 assists, 10 digs, four blocks and two service aces.
After losing the first two sets, Minnesota fought hard to keep the match alive in the third. Late mistakes by Penn State allowed for Gibbemeyer to take advantage and tally two consecutive kills to make it set point for the Gophers. Ariel Scott of Penn State committed an attack error to end the set 26-24.
Minnesota trailed 17-11 in the fourth set, before rattling off a 5-0 run to cut it to 17-16 on a kill by Gibbemeyer. The Gophers fell behind 22-20 after kill by McClendon, and also trailed 23-21. However, Wittman answered with a kill and Gibbemeyer and Harms combined on a block to tie it at 23. Gibbemeyer followed with a kill to make it set point, and Scott followed with an attack error to give Minnesota the set 25-23.
In the first two sets, Penn State hit .411 and limited Minnesota to a .217 hitting percentage. After hitting .000 in the first set. the Gophers bounced back to hit .378 (16-1-40) with only one error in the second set. That effort was topped by the Nittany Lions who hit .487 (21-2-39) with 21 kills in the second set.
On the night, Penn State outhit Minnesota .278 (81-23-209) to .217 (73-26-217), and had 81 kills to 73. Both teams finished with 12 blocks, and the Gophers had six service aces to five for the Nittany Lions. Penn State outdug Minnesota 102 to 90.
The Nittany Lions were led by Brown who collected 24 kills, 13 digs, and one service ace. Scott also had 21 kills, while McClendon had 15 kills and five blocks. Senior libero Alyssa D’Errico finished with a match-high 35 digs and Ali Longo added 16 digs and two service aces for Penn State.
Minnesota will find out what the NCAA Tournament has in store during the Selection Show, which will take place on Sunday, Nov. 28 at 2 p.m. on ESPNews.