Gophers rebound with win at OSU

Minnesota lost to Penn State last week but bounced back in Columbus.

Megan Ryan

The Gophers volleyball team has lost only three matches this season, but all have been against ranked opponents. In fact, Minnesota had only beat one ranked opponent all season.

Until this weekend.

No. 11 Minnesota defeated No. 14 Ohio State in three dominant sets Saturday in Columbus, Ohio.

Senior middle blocker Tori Dixon said the difference between the Buckeyes match and past matches with ranked teams was simple.

“We got on them really early from the get-go, and then we just stayed on them,” she said. “They really never had a chance to get a run or get any kind of momentum.”

Dixon led the match with 12 kills and seven blocks. She also contributed six digs and a .360 hitting percentage.

Freshman outside hitter Sarah Wilhite came in second in kills with 10 and hit .500 with two service aces.

Wilhite also impressed in Wednesday’s five-set loss on the road at Penn State, and she said she’s just happy to have the opportunity to play after hard work in the gym.

“Switching positions has been hard, but practice is definitely paying off,” she said. “I’m getting used to playing on the right side rather than the left side.”

While the whole team built off the tough match against the Nittany Lions, Wilhite wasn’t the only player to carry over success in a specific aspect of her game. Senior outside hitter Ashley Wittman recorded a match-high 12 digs against the Buckeyes.

“I think about where I’m supposed to be on the court when different hitters are hitting — just staying loaded and ready at all times,” Wittman said.

Three of the Gophers’ next four matches will be at the Sports Pavilion. After a two-week road trip with three matches against ranked teams, the team is welcoming the break from travel.

Wilhite called the past week “crazy.” Dixon said she was sick of the stress of traveling.

But Wittman said the strain didn’t show in the team’s performance.

“I think the team did a good job of competing and executing a plan,” she said, “not letting travel and having a hard game on Wednesday affect anything.”