Minnesota drops Badgers

The Gophers had to rally after losing the first set on the road to Wisconsin.

Emily Polglaze

The Gophers volleyball team earned a tight road victory against the University of Wisconsin-Madison Wednesday evening, in their sixth extra-set match of the season.  
The No. 11 Gophers improved to 14-3 overall and 6-1 in the Big Ten with the victory.
“I was impressed with the way we battled,” head coach Hugh McCutcheon said. “It was a difficult match, and Wisconsin is a very strong opponent, and the kids fought.”
The Badgers got off to a 6-3 lead in the first set after winning a challenge. Tapp answered with a kill, but the Badgers went on a four-point run, and the Gophers took a timeout down 9-4. 
A strong attack by Wisconsin kept the Gophers from finding a rhythm, and they dropped the first set 25-11.
Minnesota started the second set stronger, getting a 4-1 lead off of a Paige Tapp kill, assisted by freshman setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson.
Later, Wisconsin fought back, and a Minnesota error narrowed the Gophers lead to 12-11.
A pair of Daly Santana kills and a Wisconsin error put Minnesota back on top 16-14. 
Wisconsin stayed close behind, and Minnesota took a timeout leading 21-19.
From there, Minnesota went to set point, but Wisconsin strung together four quick points to make it 24-24. 
A Badgers error put Minnesota back to set point again, and a Paige Tapp kill ended the set 26-24, knotting the teams 1-1.
“In the first set, we were out of rhythm and not completely balanced in all aspects of the game,” Seliger-Swenson said. “But going into that second set we really unified … We
had more discipline.”
The Gophers got out to an early 6-3 lead in the third set as Santana tallied her second ace of the night.
Wisconsin went on a three-point run of their own, but back-to-back Santana kills got the Badgers to take a timeout with the Gophers leading 11-6. 
Another Santana kill took the Gophers to set point, and they finished the set with a 25-16 victory.
The fourth set opened with back-to-back Wisconsin points, but Minnesota took advantage and went up 6-2 on a Seliger-Swenson kill, forcing a Wisconsin timeout.
The timeout gave the Badgers some life, and they went up 7-6, making the Gophers take a timeout of their own.
The teams went back-and-forth for the rest of the set, with the Badgers ultimately taking the set 26-24 to force an extra set.
In the fifth set, Minnesota broke an early tie and went up 7-3.
The Badgers were able to tally three straight points to cut their deficit to 8-6, but it wasn’t enough. 
Minnesota took the final set 15-11 and claimed the match 3-2. 
The start of a two-part border battle, Minnesota will face Wisconsin again at home on Saturday.
“We won’t have any expectations, and we’ll come out strong on the first point,” Santana said.