Gophers’ historic winning streak ends at 19

No. 3 Minnesota had looked impervious to losing until it was topped by Penn State in State College, Pennsylvania.

Sophomore opposite hitter Stephanie Samedy eyes the ball as she serves during the game against the Northwestern Wildcats on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. The Gophers beat Northwestern in all three sets.

Ellen Schmidt

Sophomore opposite hitter Stephanie Samedy eyes the ball as she serves during the game against the Northwestern Wildcats on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. The Gophers beat Northwestern in all three sets.

David Mullen

The Gophers volleyball team’s quest to be the first Big Ten team to go undefeated in the regular season since 2009 came to an end Friday when they were topped by No. 7 Penn State (23-6, 14-5 Big Ten) on the road. 

The Gophers were led by opposite hitter Stephanie Samedy, who had a season-high 24 kills, and fought their way to five sets. The Nittany Lions had the last laugh in the final set, though. They upset No. 3 Minnesota (24-3, 18-1 Big Ten) in five sets: 21-25, 25-21, 28-30, 26-24 and 12-15. 

The Gophers haven’t won in State College, Pennsylvania since 2004. 

Minnesota took an early lead over the Nittany Lions after taking the first set 25-21. Samedy led the attack for the Gophers with seven kills, while five other players registered a kill.

Penn State did not give up easily, however. They answered the Gophers’ attack by taking the set 25-21. 

The third set was a battle. Timely streaks by both teams kept both the Nittany Lions and the Gophers in the set until the end as Penn State was trailing 24-22 with Minnesota on set-point. The Nittany Lions scored three consecutive points and earned a set-point themselves. After a few exchanges of points, Penn State took the set 30-28. 

The Gophers came back fighting in the fourth set. They trailed early 13-8 and Penn State looked like they were going to run away with the set and match. Later in the match, Minnesota caught fire and scored six-straight points and took their first lead of the set 21-19. Minnesota eventually took the set 26-24 behind Samedy who had five kills in the set.

In the fifth and final set, the Gophers took a quick 5-2 lead over Penn State and forced the Nittany Lions to use a timeout. The Gophers extended their lead to 7-4, but the Nittany Lions caught fire and closed out the set and the match.

Minnesota will look to bounce back in their final regular season match Saturday against Rutgers in New Jersey at 6 p.m.