Gophers switch-up volleyball standings with big win over Ohio State

by Lindsay Guentzel

The 15th-ranked Gophers notched another crucial conference win, taking down Ohio State in four sets–25-19, 25-10, 21-25, 25-22–in front of the home crowd Friday.

The victory leaves the Gophers in full command of third place, with the chance to take a share of second with Illinois.  It all depends on what happens tomorrow, when all 11 Big Ten teams wrap-up conference play and wait to hear their post-season fate.

It was an all-around effort for the Gophers, who saw 10 lead changes throughout the match. Middle hitter freshman Tori Dixon picked up 12 kills while senior Lauren Gibbemeyer–Dixon’s counterpart–notched another 11 kills and five blocks.  Sophomore Katherine Harms, sophomore Tabi Love, and freshman Ashley Wittman all tallied nine kllls a piece, while junior libero Jessica Granquist grabbed 14 digs for the maroon and gold.

It was a match-up the Gophers needed to take advantage of.  With No. 19 Michigan dropping a three-set match to unranked Michigan State on Wednesday, a win would give the Gophers full command of third place.  

But that wasn’t the only upset working in Minnesota’s favor.  The 7-11 Indiana Hoosiers pulled off a huge upset over No. 10 Illinois Friday, dropping the Fighting Illini to 14-5 in the Big Ten.  A Illinois loss tomorrow, combined with a Minnesota win, would give the Gophers a share of second place, improving their standings before heading into Sunday’s NCAA selection show.

A weekend sweep will be a challenge for the Gophers, who close out the season with No. 7 Penn State Saturday at 8:30 p.m.  The Gophers lost a tough 3-1 set against the Nittany Lions on the road in October but as the season has proved for all of the Big Ten teams, home-court advantage has played an instrumental role in key match-ups.

The showdown can be seen on the Big Ten network.