The Gophers beat the Cornhuskers Saturday — in volleyball.
No. 3 Minnesota (16-2, 10-0 Big Ten) continued its Big Ten dominance as it beat No. 5 Nebraska (15-5, 6-4 Big Ten) in four sets in what head coach Hugh McCutcheon called the team’s best performance of the year.
“I think tonight we were just ready to be here as long as it took to get the job done and get the [win],” said setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson.
In the opening set, the Gophers got to work early. They took a 5-3 lead after two powerful hits by sophomore Stephanie Samedy.
As expected, the Cornhuskers were resilient and, after a few point exchanges, Nebraska changed the energy of the set as the visitors went on a 7-1 run to give them a 13-9 lead. Minnesota swung some momentum back in its favor as it went on a 3-1 run of its own to cut the Nebraska lead to two.
The two top-five teams continued to exchange points until Nebraska scored three straight, giving the Cornhuskers a 20-14 lead. The Gophers did not give up, however. They went on four-point run of their own, but Nebraska took the opening set 25-19.
This is the second set the Gophers have lost since Sept. 9. Both have come against Nebraska.
“They were competing really hard,” McCutcheon said about Nebraska.
In the second set, Minnesota took a fast 6-4 lead over the Cornhuskers.
After a Nebraska point, the Gophers scored three-consecutive points and extended their lead to five as they led Nebraska 10-5. The Gophers pushed their lead to 16-8, after a few point streaks forced Nebraska to use a timeout.
After the break, the Cornhuskers fired back scoring six straight points and made the score 16-14. Nebraska used this momentum to take a 21-20 lead, but it wasn’t enough as Minnesota came back and took the set 25-23.
Four separate players for the Gophers scored three kills in another well-balanced offensive attack. McCutcheon said the number of quality hitters on the team is a strength for the Gophers because they do not have to depend on one person.
The Gophers continued their offensive energy into the third set, taking a commanding 7-1 lead. The Cornhuskers fought their way back after a 6-2 run that cut the lead to 11-10. From there, both teams exchanged points until the Gophers went on a three-point run, putting them ahead 21-18.
The Gophers carried this momentum until the end, winning the third set 25-23. Freshman outside hitter Adanna Rollins dominated with eight kills in the set.
Just like the others, the final set was neck-and-neck until a timely run.
Nebraska took an early two-point lead to set up an eventual 8-6 lead before the Gophers went on a 4-2 run, taking the lead 12-11. Both teams exchanged points until Minnesota took over after a 6-2 run. This put them ahead 18-15.
The Gophers finished the set by winning seven of the final nine points. They capped the night off with a 25-18 set win and another victory of the season.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our performance,” McCutcheon said.
Rollins had a double-double with a career-high 20 kills and 14 digs.
“To be able to have that kind of performance is remarkable. There’s no other way to describe it,” McCutcheon said.
Minnesota will return to action Friday to play against Michigan State.