Gophers volleyball takes down Ohio State in five sets

Minnesota is on a five-game winning streak, and is 10-1 in Big Ten play this season.

Fans cheer on Gopher volleyball on Dec. 1, 2018 at Maturi Pavilion in Minneapolis.

Ellen Schmidt

Fans cheer on Gopher volleyball on Dec. 1, 2018 at Maturi Pavilion in Minneapolis.

Nolan O'Hara

The Gophers volleyball team picked up their fifth straight win, taking down Ohio State in a tight, five set match on Wednesday. 

The Gophers won 25-19, 19-25, 22-25, 25-10 and 17-15. Minnesota got off to a hot start, thanks in large part to opposite hitter Stephanie Samedy. She had six kills in the set, two of which helped the Gophers take an early 6-2 lead. OSU came within one midway through the set, but Minnesota pulled away late and Samedy closed it out with a solo block. 

The second looked nothing like the first as the Gophers trailed 13-5 after an 8-0 OSU run. OSU’s Gabby Gonzales contributed back-to-back aces from the service line during the run. Outside hitter Alexis Hart finally ended the drought for the Gophers with a kill and setter Bayley McMenimen followed with an ace, but it wasn’t enough. Despite a run late in the set, the Gophers couldn’t overcome the early OSU lead.  

In the third, OSU picked up where they left off in the second, this time taking an early 15-7 lead. Again, Minnesota cut into the OSU lead, coming within two late off an ace by libero CC McGraw. As OSU reached set point, outside hitter Adanna Rollins cut it back to two with a kill, but again OSU closed out the set, this time taking the 2-1 lead. 

“Well it’s kind of the nature of the sport,” head coach Hugh McCutcheon said of the constant momentum changes throughout the match. “You have some shifts as the energy changes throughout the course of the match. I thought we came out well in the first and we’re in control, and then got a little loose in the middle of the second, and then it got away from us.”

What got away came back for Minnesota in the fourth. Everything was working for the Gophers. They opened up a 12-7 lead after back-to-back kills from Rollins and another ace from McGraw. McGraw had three aces in the match. Then it was Hart’s time to take over. She had four kills in a row, giving Minnesota a double-digit lead, 20-10. She also got the Gophers to set point with a rocket of a kill. 

Hart had five kills in the fourth and 15 for the match. She credited her teammates for her performance.

“I think just defensively we were just keeping the ball high,” she said. “Whoever had second contact was doing a really good just keeping it high. Everyone’s doing a great job being disciplined.”

Outside hitter Airi Miyabe’s kill closed out the fourth and forced OSU into a fifth set.

The Gophers maintained a three point lead early in the fifth. They led 6-3, 7-4 and 10-7, but OSU closed the gap entirely, tying the set after a 3-0 run. OSU then took a 12-11 lead, but Hart again came through for the Gophers. She tied it at 12 with a kill, her 15th of the match. Rollins and Miyabe closed it out for the Gophers. They had the last three kills of the match, giving Minnesota a win to start the second half of the Big Ten season. 

The Gophers will be in action again on Sunday when they head to No. 16 Purdue to take on the Boilermakers.