Minnesota sweeps North Dakota, moves on to second round of NCAA Tournament

The Gophers remain undefeated at the Sports Pavilion this season with the win.

Gophers sophomore Samantha Seliger-Swenson sets the ball on Friday, Sept. 23, 2016 in a match against Maryland in the Sports Pavillon. 

Gophers sophomore Samantha Seliger-Swenson sets the ball on Friday, Sept. 23, 2016 in a match against Maryland in the Sports Pavillon. 

Tommy Sletten

The No. 2 seed Minnesota Gophers opened up the NCAA
Tournament in style and swept the North Dakota Fighting Hawks in straight sets.

Minnesota moved on to the field of 32 with the victory.

“They had a nice night and made us work,” said head coach
Hugh McCutcheon. “And, believe it or not, I like that … It’s good for us to
have to figure out ways to win and I think it sets us up for the battles to
come.”

Despite being overmatched for the entirety of the game,
North Dakota came out swinging in the first set, which included seven tie
scores and two lead changes.

North Dakota highlighted their strongest set with a 5-0 run,
to tie the score at 14-all.

However, strong play from senior outside hitter and Big Ten
Player of the Year Sarah Wilhite heralded Minnesota to a 25-21 victory.

Minnesota cruised on to win the next two sets 25-12 and
25-20.

Wilhite finished the match with 17 kills, seven digs, and an
ace.

Sophomore setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson had a double-double
evening with 39 assists and 10 digs, while junior middle blocker Molly Lohman
had seven kills and three blocks.

Minnesota will have a rematch of last year’s regional finale
Saturday, and will face Hawaii at 6 p.m. at the Sports Pavilion.

The Gophers defeated the Rainbow Wahine 3-1 last season to
advance to the Final Four.

“I’m excited to play them,” Wilhite said. “They have some
big kids, but I think we’ll be able to focus on us and play the way we’ve been
playing, with confidence. We’ll definitely be ready and know what we’re going
to do.”