Minnesota, Wisconsin tied 1-1 at intermission

by Brian Deutsch

After struggling to win the key points in the first set, allowing Wisconsin to hang around and eventually win 25-23, the Gophers made sure there was no need for key points in a 25-10 second-set route. Brook Dieter and Kelly Schmidt stepped up offensively in the second set, leading Minnesota to a .290- (-).094 advantage in hit efficiency in the set. Dieter overcame a tough first set to collect 4 kills on 13 swings, and Schmidt added 4 kills and a pair of blocks for the Gophers. Before we get to the match analysis, I have to mention the men’s gymnastics team’s “halftime” show, where the gymnasts showed off some of their in-air skills to the crowd. So Krista, before we get to the game, what did you think about tonight’s display? Chin:In past years, I was always jealous of all the fans during the intermission, as they got to see our outstanding Men’s Gymnastics team perform so crazy stunts. It was fun to finally get a chance to see them for myself. They were energetic and enthusiastic and getting the crowd into their performance. I’m looking forward to seeing them perform during their upcoming season. Daily: What was the biggest difference between the first and second set? (Besides the score) Chin: Minnesota came out with a chip on their shoulder during the second set. As the girls walked from one side of the court to the other, it was obvious they were upset with the way they played. Throughout the second set, the Gophers served much tougher, resulting in three aces for Minnesota. They started picking on the Badgers’ two left side hitters, Caity DuPont and Brittney Dolgner, forcing them to stay disciplined and pass first before releasing to hit. This strategy seemed to work well as those two hitters started to become frazzled in the second set. Also, the Badgers’ were not as crafty with their attacks, allowing the Gophers to increase their total team blocks to six. The defense by Rachel Hartmann and Christine Tan in the second set was critical. They were fighting hard to keep the ball alive, especially during the longer rallies when it is easier to get fatigued. Daily: Key to success in the second half? C hin: The key to success in the second half definitely will come down to discipline and composure. Both teams have exposed each others’ weaknesses, so it’s time for someone to step up and help lead their team to the top. Look to Brook Dieter to step up during the second half. She was given a number of opportunities in the first half to put the ball away, but the Badgers were reading her well and blocking her virtually every time she attacked. Dieter is a competitive player, and she will find a way to put the ball away for her team. Kyla Roehrig needs to come out strong for the Gophers. The left-side duo of Dieter and Roehrig is deadly, and if they both are on fire, they are hard to stop. For the Badgers, the key is to continue serving tough and getting the Gophers out of rhythm. It will be important for them to stop Lauren Gibbemeyer on the slide attack as that is her specialty and what has worked for her so much this season.