Minnesota volleyball sweeps Iowa with ease

The Gophers were in control throughout their 25-16, 25-14, 25-16 win over the unranked Hawkeyes.

Charlie Armitz

The No. 14 Minnesota volleyball team defeated unranked Iowa 25-16, 25-14, 25-16 at the Sports Pavilion on Friday night to open its second Big Ten home weekend of 2011.

The Gophers (11-5 overall, 3-4 Big Ten) never looked fazed in a match they dominated from start to finish. They forced the Hawkeyes into as many errors (22) as kills, and won every statistical category.

Ashley Wittman, Katherine Harms, and Mia Tabberson each had two aces for Minnesota, which set a season-high with seven aces overall. The Gophers set the tone early in the match with their aggressive serving.

“They worked really hard on serving [in practice this week],” interim head coach Laura Bush said. “It’s nice to see, regardless of who the opponent is, that they got rewarded with some service aces.”

Wittman, who has employed a topspin jump serve in recent weeks, said she plans to be even more aggressive as the season progresses.

“Everyone’s been working really hard on their serves, and it showed tonight,” Wittman said.

Minnesota’s passing was also effective; the Gophers allowed three aces in the first set but only one in the second and third sets. That allowed setter Tabberson to distribute the ball evenly to her hitters. Wittman and Harms each had 10 kills and 23 attempts, and the team’s other three hitters — Hailey Cowles, Tori Dixon and Ariana Filho — each had at least five and 12.

“The offense is starting to click a little bit more,” Bush said. “But you have to look at the people who were passing the ball and allowing us to stay in system. That’s a big part of being able to distribute the ball evenly.”

Said Wittman: “It’s nice that we can have everyone on the team make a contribution to the hitting. If our passing is on, we’re able to do that. It makes it so much easier on anyone, not only me.”

Minnesota completes its homestand on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Williams Arena against No. 5 Nebraska.