Minnesota continues sweep streak against Illinois

The Gophers’ swept Illinois for the second time this season as they continue their Big Ten dominance remaining undefeated in Big Ten play

Sophomore outside hitter Alexis Hart hits the ball at Maturi Pavilion during a set against the University of North Dakota on Friday, Dec. 1.

Alex Tuthill-Preus

Sophomore outside hitter Alexis Hart hits the ball at Maturi Pavilion during a set against the University of North Dakota on Friday, Dec. 1.

by David Mullen

Minnesota’s brooms have gotten quite the workout this season.

No. 3 Minnesota (13-2, 7-0 Big Ten) continued its Big Ten dominance as the team stayed undefeated in conference play after sweeping for the seventh-straight match and second-straight against No. 7 Illinois (15-3, 4-3 Big Ten) in two weeks.

Although the Gophers were not perfect, head coach Hugh McCutcheon said he was pleased with the victory. 

“Even though it was a little choppy, I was proud of the way we managed that,” McCutcheon said. “Any win in the Big Ten is a good one.”

In a back-and-forth opening set the Gophers’ timely hitting topped Illinois’ fight. 

The set opened with an ace by senior Samantha Seliger-Sweson but Illinois would not stay quiet. For every point the Gophers converted, the Fighting Illini answered.

Minnesota eventually broke the tie by scoring two consecutive points which put them ahead 15-13. 

Although the match remained neck and neck the Gophers maintained their lead while they were led by redshirt sophomore Regan Pittman. Minnesota won the opening set 25-22. 

Pittman had six kills in the set while hitting .600 percent. Seliger-Swenson had five points off two kills of her own, three service aces and 15 assists.

The second set was equally as competitive at the start. 

The Gophers’ and Illinois kept exchanging points as it was tied 5-5. 

As the set went on sophomore Stephanie Samedy caught fire converting three kills out of five points as the Gophers would take a 13-10 lead. 

The Fighting Illini would not conceive victory as they would answer every run by Minnesota and tied the set at 15 all. 

Junior Alexis Hart went on a scoring streak of four-consecutive points and gave the Gophers a 19-15 lead over Illinois.

“Sam did a really good job at holding blockers, so it was really cool to have a one-on-one,” Hart said.”

The Minnesota offense remained balanced throughout the set as Seliger-Swenson distributed the ball to four separate players for points to end the set as the Gophers took it 25-19. 

“We were just trying to stay consistent,” Seliger-Swenson said. 

Hart led the Gophers in the set with seven kills followed by Samedy who had five in the set as Minnesota took a 2-0 lead over Illinois.

In the final set of the match just like the first two sets it was back-and-forth. 

This time, Illinois scored the first point and held the lead until the Gophers scored three-consecutive points, giving Minnesota a 12-11 lead.

After an Illinois point the Gophers scored five-straight points after a few errors and two kills by Hart as Minnesota led 17-12.

Illinois again fought back, but it still wasn’t enough as the Gophers took the final set 25-20 and swept Illinois for the second time this season.

“We have a lot of respect for [Illinois],” McCutcheon said. “We’re fortunate to get out of it in three.”

Hart led the Gophers’ with 15 kills while hitting .364. Seliger-Swenson had 41 assists along with three service aces and four kills.

The Gophers will continue play Saturday night as they match up against Northwestern at 7 p.m.