Gophers sweep final home weekend of the season

For the Minnesota volleyball team, the last regular season weekend at home was a success. âÄúOur main concern was getting two wins,âÄù senior middle blocker Kelly Schmidt said. âÄúWe would have liked to do it in three sets both nights, but I think weâÄôre happy with what weâÄôre leaving the weekend with.âÄù The Gophers (24-6 overall, 14-4 Big Ten) extended their winning streak to six, beating No. 20 Michigan on Friday in four sets, 25-16, 20-25, 25-14, 25-20, and topping Ohio State in four sets Sunday, 25-20, 25-12, 18-25, 25-22. Minnesota began the Michigan match in dominating fashion, displaying the same balanced offense that brought so much success in the last homestand and picking apart the Michigan defense for a first set win. Six different players recorded kills as the Gophers outhit Michigan .270 to -.027. But the Wolverines (23-7, 11-7) adjusted, leading throughout the second set. Michigan led 11-15 when GophersâÄô sophomore outside hitter Brook Dieter went down with an ankle injury, and immediately left the game for X-rays. Coach Mike Hebert announced Dieter to have a sprained ankle, and suggested she could be out for âÄúat least a couple of weeks.âÄù But the Gophers responded well to the injury. âÄúI was more than pleased with the teamâÄôs reaction, because you can go one of two ways after something like that,âÄù Hebert said. âÄúYou can say âÄòUh-oh,âÄô and start to fade, or you can buckle down and fight with a little more grit. We did the latter.âÄù Despite losing the second set, Minnesota played just fine without Dieter, as sophomore defensive specialist Hailey Cowles moved up to the front row and performed well and senior outside hitter Kyla Roehrig put out a dominating performance. âÄúI decided IâÄôm winning my last two home games,âÄù Roehrig said. âÄúIâÄôd say we were determined to finish well at home.âÄù Cowles collected 10 kills and hit .364, while Roehrig led the team with 16 kills and a .583 hit percentage. Minnesota played errorless in the third set, hitting .368 as a team to cruise to a 25-14 win, and played solid defense in the fourth set, finishing off the Wolverines. Junior libero Christine Tan finished the match with 22 digs, while Cowles added 15. The four seniors seemed to take RoehrigâÄôs philosophy for the weekend to heart early against Ohio State on Sunday, as the four combined for 17 kills and a .406 hitting percentage in the first two sets to give Minnesota an early 2-0 advantage on senior day. âÄúI think we just wanted to come out here and just have fun in front of our home crowd,âÄù Schmidt said. âÄúWe wanted to embrace the crowd and embrace our last home match.âÄù The Gophers struggled to finish the match off, however, as the Buckeyes (12-18, 3-15) came out of intermission strong defensively, holding Minnesota to a .068 hit percentage in the third set to win and prolong the match. âÄúItâÄôs a typical scenario. The team that wins the first two sets often comes out casual in the third set,âÄù Hebert said. âÄúAnd despite asking them not to let that happen, it happened.âÄù Minnesota passed better in the fourth set and played, according to Hebert, âÄúwell enough to win.âÄù Sophomore middle blocker Lauren Gibbemeyer collected nine of her match-high 19 kills in the final set, and the Gophers finished off the Buckeyes, 25-22. Cowles finished with 10 kills and 11 digs, while senior setter Rachel Hartmann added 6 kills, 45 assists and three service aces. The Gophers were out-blocked 12-9.