Volleyball gets two wins Homecoming weekend

by Lindsay Guentzel

It was quite the Homecoming for the Gophers. In front of 2,500 fans, the 17th-ranked volleyball team opened up the Big Ten at home on Friday with a 3-1 victory over Purdue. The celebration continued on Sunday when the Gophers swept Indiana, improving their record to 13-3. âÄúAny Big Ten win is great and weâÄôre really happy this went our way,âÄù head coach Mike Hebert said after SundayâÄôs win. âÄúA clean win, IâÄôll judge it as that.âÄù Freshman Ashley Wittman had 10 kills, eight digs and six blocks Sunday, after recording a career-high seven blocks against Purdue on Friday. âÄúIt was really exciting to finally get to play at home and in front of our crowd,âÄù Wittman said âÄúIt went really well, just getting our team together and playing under the roof that we have.âÄù The Gophers were able to show off their strong defense in front of the home crowd, out-blocking Indiana 11-2 and narrowly passing Purdue 13-11. âÄúWeâÄôve been a good blocking team all year,âÄù Hebert said. âÄúSkill-wise, [the players] are well taught. IâÄôm never surprised to see us out-block a team.âÄù Wittman added: âÄúEvery time someone gets a block, it just boosts the confidence of the whole team.âÄù WittmanâÄîlast weekâÄôs Big Ten Freshman of the WeekâÄîwasnâÄôt the only Gopher to have a successful weekend. Sophomore Tabitha Love finished the two matches with 25 kills, 14 digs, and two blocks, while junior Jessica Granquist had a career-best 38 digs against Purdue on Friday. GranquistâÄîin her first year as starting liberoâÄîhas made her presence known for the Gophers, both for her talent and on-the-court attitude. âÄúThereâÄôs nobody better in the Big Ten [at the libero position],âÄù Hebert said. âÄúSheâÄôs probably one of the best athletes weâÄôve had in the program.âÄù Love added: âÄúIt takes a lot of pressure off of me to know that [Granquist] is right there beside me. If I screw up, thereâÄôs a good chance that sheâÄôll be able to save me.âÄù The Gophers have addressed their serving heavily in recent practices, limiting themselves to only eight errors against Indiana. Sophomore Katherine Harms also had two service aces in the GophersâÄô victory. âÄúOur plan for the game was to increase our serving intensity,âÄù Granquist said. âÄúWeâÄôre just going to really keep zoning in on serving hard.âÄù The Gophers will have the opportunity to improve their serving even further when they head on the road, taking on Iowa on Wednesday and No. 25 Northwestern on Sunday. The Gophers improved to 3-1 in the Big Ten, with their only loss coming to Michigan last weekend. No. 7 Illinois is the only team undefeated in Big Ten play, picking up a big win over 4th-ranked defending national champs Penn State last weekend. The Gophers take on the Fighting Illini when they return home Oct. 22. Related: – Gophers prepare for Big Ten opener (9/30)