Minnesota wins two in road tournament

Rookie Alexis Hart led the Gophers with 30 kills in two matches on the weekend.

Middle blocker Hannah Tapp spikes the ball for a point on Friday, Nov. 6, 2015 at the Sports Pavilion.

Sam Harper, Daily File Photo

Middle blocker Hannah Tapp spikes the ball for a point on Friday, Nov. 6, 2015 at the Sports Pavilion.

Tommy Sletten

Minnesota swept a pair of opponents over the weekend in North Carolina, thanks to strong performances from veteran players and newcomers.

The Gophers traveled to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and came away with two victories. Minnesota swept Louisville Friday and beat North Carolina in four sets Saturday.

“It was a good couple of matches,” said head coach Hugh McCutcheon. “It’s always nice to get a few wins on the road.”

No. 5 Minnesota (5-1) dominated its first set against Louisville. The Gophers cruised to the victory, leading the whole set, which ended 25-10 in Minnesota’s favor.

The Gophers started slower in the second set and allowed Louisville (4-4) to take an early 4-2 lead. Minnesota capitalized on a 6-1 run shortly after, which led to a 25-12 victory.

Minnesota fell behind early in the third set, 3-5, but a kill from freshman outside hitter Alexis Hart and a block from senior middle blocker Paige Tapp and sophomore setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson gave the Gophers a lasting lead that would carry them to a 25-13 victory.

Senior outside hitter Sarah Wilhite had 12 kills in the match, while rookie player Hart posted a hitting percentage of .522 on 13 kills.

The Gophers faced a tougher opponent in Saturday’s match against No. 11 North Carolina (6-1). The Gophers jumped to a 6-1 lead early in the first set that lasted for an easy 25-11 victory.

The second set was more of the same for Minnesota en route to a 25-12 set victory. Minnesota hit a match-high .455 and saw two service aces from Wilhite.

The third set proved to be a challenge for Minnesota. The Gophers hit only .176 to the Tar Heels’ .375. The Gophers kept the set close, but the Tar Heels spoiled a match sweep with a 25-22 victory.

North Carolina stayed hot in the fourth set, but a block from senior middle blocker Hannah Tapp and Seliger-Swenson and two Tar Heels attack errors gave Minnesota a lead. The Gophers came out on top with a 25-21 set and 3-1 match victory.

Hart had a standout weekend on the road, providing a team-high 30 kills and tallying a career-best 17 kills in the match against North Carolina.

“The team and the coaches are very supportive,” Hart said. “The girls have really helped me fit in here, and all credit goes to them.”

Hannah Tapp finished the weekend with 14 total blocks and 20 kills, which earned her a spot on the All-Tournament Team with Hart.

The two matches marked the end of Minnesota’s opening road schedule. The team will look to feed off the 5-1 road trip as they head home to continue non-conference play.

“We’ve grown a lot on these road trips,” Tapp said, “I’m excited to bring what we’ve learned and how we’ve evolved back to the [Sports Pavilion].”