Gophers volleyball goes 1-1 in Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge

The Gophers started the weekend with a victory against Oregon before falling short on Sunday against Stanford.

Sophomore+Jenna+Wenaas+spikes+the+ball+in+a+match+against+Texas+at+Maturi+Pavillion+in+Minneapolis%2C+Minn.+on+Wednesday%2C+Sept.+1%2C+2021

Brad Rempel- Gopher Athletics

Sophomore Jenna Wenaas spikes the ball in a match against Texas at Maturi Pavillion in Minneapolis, Minn. on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021

by Alex Karwowski

The No. 3 ranked Gophers women’s volleyball team had a busy weekend, hosting the annual Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge.

The Gophers played their first game of the tournament on Friday against No. 18 Oregon. The first few plays of the game proved to be a little rough for Minnesota as the Ducks scored six of the first nine points.

Minnesota was able to regain momentum after an 8-1 scoring run. Highlighted by a kill and ace from Taylor Landfair, two more kills from Ellie Husemann and Jenna Wenaas and a block from Carter Booth and Naya Gros as they took the first set with a score of 25-20.

The second set was just as intense, with early kills from Julia Hanson, Naya Gros and Taylor Landfair. Oregon quickly responded with a five point scoring run to take a 15-10 lead. After a brief media timeout, the Gophers ran with the momentum and scored 6 of the next 7 points.

Following a timeout, a block from Gros and Wenaas and a kill from Wenaas tied the set at 21. Minnesota continued their scoring run after an Oregon timeout, winning the set 25-22.

Set three began with both teams going back and forth on the scoreboard. Once the score reached 10-9, the Ducks took off going on a 7-2 scoring run, jumping out to a 17-11 lead. Minnesota did not come within five points of the Ducks’ lead and would lose the set 25-18.

The fourth set was nothing less than a battle for the Gophers. The Ducks carried over their momentum from the previous set and scored seven of the first nine points to take an early 7-2 lead. Minnesota responded with a 6-2 scoring run that cut Oregon’s lead to three with the score at 12-9. The Ducks would maintain their lead with the score at 15-10 until Minnesota finally went on a 5 point scoring run to tie the game 15-15.

After an Oregon timeout, Landfair earned a kill to put the Gophers on top 21-20. After a late timeout, Minnesota went on a 3-1 scoring run to win the game 27-25.

The Gophers were led by redshirt sophomore Taylor Landfair who attained 28 kills setting a career high. It was her fourth time in five games leading the team in kills and her third career match with 20+ kills.

The following day the Gophers took on the No. 11 ranked Stanford Cardinals.

The first set began with both teams fired up and ready to play. Once the score reached 17-17, Stanford began to lead. Melani Shaffmaster threw down a kill after a Minnesota timeout, bringing the score to 20-22. Stanford responded with three straight kills and won the set 25-20

The second set was largely dominated by the Cardinals, as they scored 8 of the first 10 points. The Gophers were able to cut the deficit to four, but Stanford ultimately won the set 25-18.

The Gophers put up a fight in the third set of play. Stanford put up a strong lead at 17-13, but after a Minnesota timeout, the Gophers went on a four-point scoring run that tied the game at 17. After a kill by Landfair that put the Gophers in front, they were able to use that momentum to carry them to win the set 25-22.

The fourth set was owned and dominated by Stanford. They took a very early lead at 12-4. The Cardinals capitalized on this and went on a 5-point run to win the set and match 25-12.

After a 1-1 weekend, Minnesota moves to 4-2 for the season. Next on the schedule is a Sept. 15 home match against the Pepperdine Waves.