Gophers volleyball sweep first Big Ten matches

Minnesota lost one set of seven total in the weekend’s two games.

Middle Blocker, Molly Lohman gets ready to strike the ball back to Maryland on Friday, Sept. 23, 2016 in the Sports Pavillon.

Easton Green

Middle Blocker, Molly Lohman gets ready to strike the ball back to Maryland on Friday, Sept. 23, 2016 in the Sports Pavillon.

Tommy Sletten

Minnesota started off its Big Ten campaign with two victories at home against Maryland and Ohio State this weekend.

The Gophers dropped just one set of seven in the two matches and were one of five conference teams who went undefeated in the first round of Big Ten play.

No. 2 Minnesota (10-1, 2-0 Big Ten) won its first match against Maryland (8-6, 0-2 Big Ten) Friday in dominating fashion with a clean 3-0 sweep.

Minnesota breezed through all three sets to win 25-13, 25-14 and 25-12.

The Gophers were especially dominant in the third set when they hit .414 as a team to the Terrapins’ -.030.

Minnesota capitalized on a 16-3 run and saw four consecutive kills from senior outside hitter Sarah Wilhite to help seal the set victory and match sweep.

Wilhite led all players with 15 kills followed by senior middle blockers Paige and Hannah Tapp who had seven kills each. Sophomore setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson stabilized the offense with 33 assists on the night as well.

The Gophers saw a much larger challenge on Saturday when No. 17 Ohio State (10-4, 0-2 Big Ten) came to town looking for an upset.

“They’re ranked in the top twenty for a reason,” said head coach Hugh McCutcheon. “I was proud of our athletes for grinding out a win.”

Minnesota came out strong again in the first set and started with a 7-1 run. Ohio State committed error after error in the set, leading to a 25-16 Minnesota victory.

Minnesota foiled the Buckeyes again in the second set and forced Ohio State to hit only .179. The Gophers came away with a 25-18 set win.

Ohio State bounced back in the third set and started out with an 8-3 lead. The Buckeyes kept the lead for the entirety of the set, winning 25-18.

The last set was a dogfight in which Ohio State and Minnesota traded points all match. Minnesota ultimately took the set 25-22.

Freshman outside hitter Alexis Hart finished second on the team with nine kills followed by junior middle blocker Molly Lohman and Hannah Tapp with seven kills each. Seliger-Swenson had 35 assists and 11 digs — both a team high.

Minnesota hit .230 on the night.

Wilhite ended the match with 15 kills which matched her total from the previous match. She also tallied 11 digs and two service aces.

“The fourth set, we came out and had a talk,” Wilhite said. “We needed to focus on our unity which in turn, brought our energy up.”