Gophers down Badgers for seventh consecutive win

Sophomore outside hitter Alexis Hart led the Gophers with 23 kills.

Setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson sets the ball at the Gophers game against the Badgers at the Maturi Pavilion on Saturday, Oct. 21.

Image by Ananya Mishra

Setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson sets the ball at the Gophers game against the Badgers at the Maturi Pavilion on Saturday, Oct. 21.

by Henry Hughes

In front of 5,541 fans at the Maturi Pavilion, Minnesota rallied to win its second match against Wisconsin this season.

The No. 5 Gophers finished the match by winning the third set 25-21 and the fourth 25-22 against No. 9 Wisconsin on Saturday night.

“We were able to get it on the floor better than we were in the first set,” said head coach Hugh McCutcheon. “In the first set I did think we were in pretty good spots with lots of areas, but it seemed like our swings were a little tentative.”

Minnesota went from six errors in the first set and lost by a score of 25-21, to just two in the second set, winning 25-18.

“I thought in the second set we were able to take better transition swings,” McCutcheon said. “That generally helped to increase our hitting efficiency.”

While Minnesota saw a first set to second set improvement, Wisconsin did just the opposite. The Badgers hit .341 in the first set, compared to just .098 in the second. To go with that, Wisconsin had nine errors in the second, after four in the first.

“There aren’t too many weaknesses on [Wisconsin’s] team,” McCutcheon said. “For us it was more about taking care of our side of things and really working on the defensive end.”

Middle blocker Dana Rettke made her presence known for Wisconsin. Rettke had 22 kills on 34 attempts, and no errors. 

Minnesota had three players in double digit kills on Saturday. Sophomore outside hitter Alexis Hart led the team with 23, freshman opposite hitter Stephanie Samedy had 11 and freshman outside hitter Jasmyn Martin had 10.

“I think it’s that resilience and composure,” McCutcheon said. “That belief is a really important thing in a team, and for a team that is this [young] it is really impressive.”

An uncharacteristic stat from the evening was junior setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson’s nine attempts and three kills.

Prior to Saturday’s matchup, Seliger-Swenson had 72 total attempts in 20 matches, averaging 3.6 per match. Prior to the match against Wisconsin, she was averaging 1.2 kills per match, as well.

“I just try and feel if they’re jumping with me,” Seliger-Swenson said. “If they are blocking on the other side I’ll obviously try and set it to a hitter, but if they’re stay on the ground, then it is open.”

Having played nine total sets against Wisconsin this year, Minnesota was forced to channel an ability to outlast their opponent in the long sets.

“I think just sticking with it and trying to get good touches,” Seliger-Swenson said. “Keeping the ball up on our side and keep giving it to them — it doesn’t have to be a straight-down kill.”

Minnesota continues Big Ten play at home, when it matches up against Illinois on Wednesday at 8 p.m.