Minnesota’s road success ends at Purdue

The Gophers dropped 38 of the last 55 points in a four-set loss to the Boilermakers.

by Charlie Armitz

The No. 14 Minnesota volleyball team lost in four sets at No. 12 Purdue on Saturday night in West Lafayette, Ind., ending its three-match road winning streak.

The good news for the Gophers is that they outplayed the Boilermakers for one and a half sets.

The bad news is that they barely looked competitive — much less like a top Big Ten team — for the other two and a half sets.

Minnesota fell to 5-5 in the Big Ten with its 25-16, 20-25, 25-19, 25-14 loss — the same mark it held at last season’s halfway point of conference play.

After letting a close first set slip away, the Gophers rebounded to win the second set and looked on track to take a 2-1 sets lead. They led 16-12 in the third set — then the Boilermakers took a timeout and stormed back onto the court with a purpose.

Purdue ended the set with a 13-3 run, and then began the fourth set with a 10-2 run. Minnesota played better after that, but it was much too late.

Ashley Wittman had 12 kills and three errors through two sets, but finished the match with 15 kills and 14 errors, hitting .020.

The Gophers went 9-1 during the second half of conference play in 2010. To match that mark again, they will need to defeat at least two of the conference’s top three teams. Nebraska (10-0, 1st), Illinois (9-1, 2nd), and Penn State (8-2, 3rd) will each face Minnesota once during the second half of 2011.

Minnesota has yet to defeat a Big Ten team ranked above it this season.