In the first weekend of Big Ten play, the Gophers volleyball team came away with victories in both of their matches, this time against No. 15 Purdue.
The Gophers won in straight sets: 25-19, 25-21 and 25-23, and they did so without their starting setter Kylie Miller. According to head coach Hugh McCutcheon, Miller is listed as day-to-day. Sophomore Bayley McMenimen got the start Saturday for the Gophers, and she fed opposite hitter Stephanie Samedy early. Samedy lead the way for Minnesota with 10 kills in the first set, nine coming from an assist from McMenimen. McMenimen’s excellent performance helped the Gophers not miss a beat and pick up their seventh straight win.
“I think it was a combination of help from the coaching staff, from my teammates. Just communication, try to stay consistent the whole time,” she said.
In the second, Samedy picked up where she left off in the first. She opened the set with back-to-back kills, giving Minnesota a 2-0 lead early. The Gophers had a 20-10 lead late in the set, but Purdue answered with a 4-0 run. The Gophers answered right back. They went on a 3-0 run of their own. Purdue tried to climb back, but middle blocker Regan Pittman put the set away with a kill for the Gophers. After recording 10 kills in the first, Samedy kept her foot on the gas, adding seven more in the second.
“I don’t really think I fell like I wore them down or anything. I just focused on making sure I was doing the things I needed to do to help my team win the next point,” Samedy said.
The third set was a nail biter. The Gophers lead early after a Samedy kill gave Minnesota an 11-8 lead. Purdue battled back tying the set at 14 and again at 22. Purdue took a 23-22 lead on a block by Emma Ellis and Jael Johnson. Pittman tied it back at 23 with a kill. All tied at 23, Samedy produced an ace, and gave the Gophers match point. Pittman closed out the set and match with a kill.
“Just sticking with some good volleyball,” McCutcheon said of the Gophers answer to Purdue’s rally. “We believe really strongly in the power of first contact. A nice serve at 23-all there for [Samedy], and another nice serve for the match, even to get them out of system.”
Samedy finished with a match-high 21 kills and also added 11 digs to complete the double-double. In her first start of the season, McMenimen recorded 45 assists, 12 digs and a block.
The Gophers will be back in action on Wednesday when they take on rival Iowa.