Minnesota thumps Michigan for lucky No. 13

The Gophers dominated the Wolverines, extending their winning streak to 13 games.

Senior Samantha Seliger-Swenson serves the ball on Friday, Oct. 19 at Maturi Pavilion.

Image by Courtney Deutz

Senior Samantha Seliger-Swenson serves the ball on Friday, Oct. 19 at Maturi Pavilion.

by David Mullen

The Gophers looked as if they were fighting for their lives for every point during their 13-game win streak.

No. 3 Minnesota (18-2, 12-0 Big Ten) asserted its dominance over No. 12 Michigan (18-5, 7-5 Big Ten) as the Gophers swept the Wolverines in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

This is the 13th straight win for Minnesota, 12 of which have happened during conference play. Much of this success has to do with the Gophers’ well-balanced offensive attack, which was apparent against Michigan. Four separate players had double-digit kill numbers. 

“We all do a really good job of drawing the block on the other, and we’re a force to be reckoned with,” said middle blocker Taylor Morgan. 

The opening set was highly competitive, as is to be expected in a match against a top-15 team.

The Wolverines took the first point of the match, but the teams traded blows until the score was tied at seven. 

Minnesota took a slight 12-9 lead after a three-point run by the Gophers, but the Wolverines did not quit, fighting hard to cut the lead to 16-15. 

Michigan went on a 5-0 run to take a 20-16 lead over Minnesota. The Gophers punched back with a four-point run of their own, tying the set at 20.

The two teams scrounged for the last few points, but Minnesota went on a timely 3-0 run to take the opening set 27-25. Morgan led the Gophers with six kills in the opening set.

“I thought it was great that we were able to make those plays at the end, it’s important to be able to close out those close sets,” said head coach Hugh McCutcheon.

The Gophers brought their strong finish from the first set into the start of the middle one — they took a lead and never let go. 

Michigan scored the first point again, but Minnesota scored the next four. Although Michigan answered, Minnesota extended its lead to 9-4 after four consecutive errors by the Wolverines. 

After a few point exchanges, Minnesota went on a seven-point run and took a commanding 17-6 lead.

Michigan scored four more points in the set, but the Gophers rolled to victory in the middle set 25-10.

“Everyone was ready to compete and ready to battle,” Morgan said. “So yes, I do believe that the momentum from the first game carried over.”

Opposite hitter Stephanie Samedy had a dominating six kills in the set. Michigan gave up 10 points to the Gophers off attack and service errors.

In the final set of the match, the Gophers kept their momentum from the previous two sets. They took an early 5-2 lead.

Michigan clawed its way back into the match and exchanged a few points as the Wolverines trimmed the Gophers’ lead to 7-5.

The Gophers went on an 8-1 run and extended their lead to 15-6 after kills by Morgan, middle blocker Regan Pittman and outside hitter Alexis Hart. 

Minnesota continued its dominance until the Wolverines went on a few small runs, which brought the score to 22-18. It wasn’t enough to close the lead, though. The Gophers took the set 25-20.

Morgan led the Gophers with seven kills in the final set and the match with 13. Pittman had 10 kills along side eight blocks and setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson distributed the ball and tallied 40 assists.

Minnesota will return to action Wednesday. They travel to Madison, Wisconsin to take on the Badgers.