Minnesota dispatches Iowa, snaps losing streak

The team moved to 14-7 overall with a 4-6 record in conference play.

Rachel Timmerman

With a block by sophomore middle blocker Paige Tapp, the Gophers ended their match against Iowa and their streak of three consecutive losses.

Minnesota defeated the unranked Hawkeyes in three sets Saturday night — the only match the two teams will play against each other this season.

Entering the match, Minnesota looked to improve its conference record after coming off a five-set loss Wednesday against Nebraska.

The team now sits at 4-6 and 14-7 overall.

“We really needed this win to keep our heads above water and keep us motivated,” senior right-side hitter Adrianna Nora said.

Nora put up a front on the right side and led the team in kills and hitting percentage.

Sophomore outside Sarah Wilhite said Nora was on fire.

“She was definitely our hot hitter,” Wilhite said.

Nora had 10 of Minnesota’s 40 kills.

“[Setter Katie Schau] and I were just connecting. Every time I was up in the air, the ball was in my hand, so it was just really smooth sailing,” Nora said.

Behind Nora, the Gophers held the Hawkeyes to just 12 points in the first set.

The second set was close in the beginning, but Minnesota pulled ahead and took the set.

Wilhite said the team was happy with its level of play in the first two sets.

“We weren’t just happy about the win; we were happy about the way we executed,” she said.

The Gophers got off to a slow start in the third set but overcame that to take the lead and the match.

Wilhite said the team was swinging smart all match and not trying to get only straight-down kills.

“We just had consistent competitive energy, and that helped with consistent execution,” she said.

The Gophers also had much better range than in Wednesday’s loss and had 40 kills to Iowa’s 22.

Head coach Hugh McCutcheon said the team’s hitting distribution is improving and its serves knocked the Hawkeyes out of their system.

“I thought we served really well,” McCutcheon said. “We had seven aces, which is pretty phenomenal.”

Minnesota continued its dominance at the net, recording eight blocks and only eight hitting errors.

“We just were taking care of our side of the net at a high level,” McCutcheon said. “It’s good to see us be in control of the things we can control.”

The Gophers earned the victory in front of an announced crowd of 5,488 — the highest attendance at the Sports Pavilion so far this season.

Minnesota will be away from home for a while, playing in four consecutive road matches over the next two weeks. It won’t play another home match until Nov. 12.

“Tournament times are coming. [These matches are] crucial of … who’s going to make it,” Nora said. “So this was extremely helpful and good for us.”