With a pair of sweeps, Gophers slated for big match against Wisconsin

The Gophers move to 13-1 in Big Ten play.

Outside Hitter Adanna Rollins prepares to jump to spike the ball at the Maturi Pavilion on Wednesday, Oct. 30.

Liam Armstrong

Outside Hitter Adanna Rollins prepares to jump to spike the ball at the Maturi Pavilion on Wednesday, Oct. 30.

Nolan O'Hara

Gophers sweep Maryland Friday

The Gophers volleyball team continues to keep pace at the top of the conference, as they earned their seventh-straight win, sweeping the Maryland Terrapins: 25-21, 25-19, 25-21. 

Outside hitter Adanna Rollins led the way for the Gophers as they opened up an early lead. She gave Minnesota a six-point advantage, their largest lead of the set, with a kill. Maryland fired back with a series of runs, most of which were answered by the Gophers, but eventually cut the lead to two as Minnesota led 20-18. A kill by outside hitter Alexis Hart put the Gophers back up by three, and they kept that cushion as Rollins put away the first for Minnesota. 

Rollins kept the momentum going. She opened the first set with a kill and had back-to-back kills midway through the set, giving the Gophers a 14-9 advantage. Hart had two more kills on their way to 25, and Regan Pittman closed out the second, giving the Gophers the desired 2-0 advantage in the match. The Gophers’ offense was rolling in the second, posting a .333 hit percentage. 

The Gophers kept the pressure on Maryland in the third. The only thing slowing them down in the match was their seven service errors on the night. In the end, it didn’t matter. The Gophers took another six-point advantage in the third as a Hart kill put them up 19-13. Middle blocker Taylor Morgan added another for Minnesota as they led 22-17, but Maryland answered with a 4-0 run, forcing the Gophers to call timeout. 

Out of the timeout, the Gophers scored three in a row to take the set. Morgan and opposite hitter Stephanie Samedy blocked a Maryland attempt, libero C.C. McGraw aced her serve to get the Gophers to set up match point. A Maryland error gave Minnesota the win.

Second sweep on Sunday

Coming off their biggest win of the season over No. 4 Wisconsin, Ohio State was looking for their second upset of the weekend against another top-10 team, No. 6 Minnesota. 

Their efforts were to no avail, however, as the Gophers won in straight sets: 25-23, 25-20, 26-24. 

The Buckeyes initially kept their momentum rolling from their big win over the Badgers, taking a 12-7 lead early. Down five, Minnesota called timeout and flipped the momentum of the set. They went on a 3-0 run after two kills from Morgan and a kill from Rollins. Rollins continued to be a force for the Gophers, tying the set at 12 with a solo block. Minnesota and Ohio State continued to trade points with Rollins, tying the set once again at 22. The Gophers just avoided going to extras as Samedy closed out the first with a kill. 

The Gophers pulled away late in the second. It was tight early, as the Buckeyes tied it up at 12 before Rollins put the Gophers back on top by one with a kill. Minnesota started to gain some separation as Morgan and outside hitter Airi Miyabe got a block to give the Gophers a 20-16 lead, and Hart extended the lead with a kill as Minnesota went up 22-17. Rollins got the Gophers to set point with a kill, and a Samedy and Pittman block closed out the set. 

The Gophers went into the third looking for the sweep. Both traded points, as Miyabe tied the set at 16 with a kill and Hart’s kill tied it again at 17. Ohio State put a stop to the trading, going on a 3-0 run and taking a 20-17 lead. Minnesota answered right back with a 3-0 run. Defensive specialist Rachel Kilkelly’s ace tied it once again at 20. The Buckeyes reached set point with a chance to take the third, but Miyabe squared it at 24 with a kill, Hart and Pittman notched a block to take the lead and a Buckeye error gave Minnesota the set and the sweep. 

The Gophers finished with three hitters with double-digit kills as Rollins and Miyabe had 11 and Hart finished with 10. Rollins also notched her second-straight double-double, adding 12 digs in the match. 

“[I’m] making sure I’m focused on every part of the game,” Rollins said. “Making sure I’m focused on my back row work. When I’m in front row, making sure I’m aggressive and ready to get points for the team.”

The wins over Maryland and Ohio State make eight straight for the Gophers, and their momentum continues to build. 

“I think right now, we’re in a good spot and we’re excited for our next opponent,” Rollins said. 

Their next opponent is No. 4 Wisconsin, setting up what could be the deciding match of the Big Ten season. Both teams have only one conference loss on their resume, and are tied in the standings. The border battle matchup will take place Thursday at Maturi Pavillion. 

“This Big Ten season is a marathon, it’s not a sprint,” said head coach Hugh McCutcheon. “It’s nice that we’re going into Thursday with some excitement, that’ll make for a good crowd. It’ll be a good volleyball match, but after we play Wisconsin, we still got matches to go. It’s just another match in a great season, but it’ll make it a little more interesting.”