Gophers pick up first conference victory

Minnesota needed a fifth set to defeat Ohio State on the road Wednesday.

Minnesota outside hitter Daly Santana serves the ball at the Sports Pavilion on Sept. 11, 2015.

Joe Sulik

Minnesota outside hitter Daly Santana serves the ball at the Sports Pavilion on Sept. 11, 2015.

by Emily Polglaze

After getting off to an 8-2 start in the nonconference portion of their schedule, the Gophers kept rolling in their first Big Ten match of the 
The team defeated No. 12 Ohio State 3-2 on the road Wednesday night after a Buckeye rally forced the teams into an extra set. 
“It’s a nice start to the conference for us,” head coach Hugh McCutcheon said. “There are lots of lessons to be learned from this match. But the most important thing is, when we needed to be good, we [were].” 
No. 21 Minnesota (9-2) came out strong right away against the Buckeyes in the first set, in which they never trailed. 
Early on, the Buckeyes and the Gophers were tied at four points each, but a rally capped by a kill from senior captain Daly Santana gave Minnesota the edge at 10-6, and Ohio State took a timeout. 
Minnesota remained on top for the remainder of the set, and a kill from junior Paige Tapp sealed Minnesota’s first set victory 25-22. 
In the second set, the Gophers immediately got in front with a 6-0 lead. 
Ohio State was able to put up two points, but Minnesota was vigilant on the ball from then on, extending its lead to 15-2. 
Though the Gophers had appeared to wear the Buckeyes down, the team didn’t go away quietly. Ohio State rallied to take the score to 23-11, but back-to-back kills from
Paige Tapp put Minnesota up 2-0 after two sets. 
“We did a really good job of playing our game and controlling every point,” Tapp said. “We wanted to come out with the same kind of energy [as Ohio State] because we knew they were going to battle.”
And starting in the third set, the Buckeyes did, with the momentum clearly shifting in their direction. 
The Gophers led in the beginning, until the Buckeyes took control after their 13th point. 
From there, Minnesota trailed but came within one at match point, down 24-23.
The sudden resurgence wasn’t enough, though, and Ohio State took the third set 25-23, ending Minnesota’s winning set streak at 24. 
“They came back with a little fire, but at the same time, we were loose,” Santana said.
Ohio State didn’t let up in the fourth set, starting off with a 9-6 lead.
Minnesota was quick to answer back, however, and Paige Tapp was once again fierce on the attack, with three consecutive kills to tie the set at 9-9. 
The set was close through 13, and a Buckeye rally took the score to 17-13. 
From there, Ohio State remained in control and the set ended 25-19 in their favor, forcing a fifth set. 
The fifth and final set was close throughout. Minnesota took a quick 5-2 lead, but the Buckeyes battled back to force a tie at 7-7. 
But after that, it was Minnesota’s match. Daly Santana had three straight kills to end the match 15-11 and secure a close Big Ten road victory for Minnesota. 
“When the game gets tight, that’s our favorite moment because we know we can work hard, and there’s something on the line,” Tapp said. “Getting those games in early is going to help because it’s only going to get bigger from here.”