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Until the end, Gophers made mighty Penn State sweat in volleyball

  • Blog Post by: Roman Augustoviz
  • October 10, 2013 - 3:07 AM

Mike Hebert's teams at Minnesota -- and he had some good ones -- had trouble winning in Happy Valley.

And on Thursday, second-year coach Hugh McCutcheon took his Gophers team to Penn State. And it was a struggle.

The Gophers were within 11-10 in the third set, five points from victory, when the Nittany Lions called timeout and ran off the final four points.

So. No. 4-ranked Penn State won 25-19, 23-25, 25-21, 22-25, 15-11 in just over 2-1/2 hours. The score was tied 21 times and there were five lead changes, at least one in the first four sets, none in the fifth. The announced crowd was 2,067 and the match was televised live on Big Ten Network.

Fans saw a physical match with 36.5 blocks; PSU had the slight edge with 18.5, half a block more than Minnesota.

Ashley Wittman had a season-high 18 kills and 22 dogs for the Gophers and hit a team-high .292. Tori Dizon added 17 kills and nine block. Daly Santana had nine kills.

Penn State (13-2, 4-1)  was led by its returning first team all-america hitter Ariel Scott with 25 kills. Three teammates also reached double figures in that category: Katie Slay had 16 kills and 10 blocks, Deja McClendon has 14 kills and Megan Courtney 10.

In the fifth set, it was Slay who had two kills after the late Penn State timeout in the fifth set. Then she and Scott had a block, making it match point which came on a Gophers' ball-handling error.

The Gophers hit .208, PSU .245. Minnesota is now 15-3, 3-2.

"Minnesota is having a great year, and they are going to be really good. We are going to have to play really well to have success with them," Penn State coach Rose said before the match.

His team met the challenge and beat the Gophers for the sixth match in a row. PSU was 3-0 against the Gophers last season, beating them 25-19, 19-25, 26-24, 25-18 in an NCAA Regional final in West Lafayette, Ind.

Penn State is 41-8 all-time against the Gophers.

The latest victory over the U was the 1,104th for Rose. He is third on the all-time list of career victories in college volleyball.

His teams have won nine of the past 10 Big Ten titles, including last year when the Nittany Lions reached the NCAA semifinals.

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