The Gophers are Big Ten volleyball champions — for only the second time in program history — but it took a tremendous comeback Wednesday night.
Minnesota rallied to beat No. 16 Ohio State 25-27, 29-31, 25-17, 25-15, 15-9 in its final scheduled home match before a sellout crowd to clinch at least a share of the conference title. The Gophers won their first in 2002.
Hannah Tapp and Sarah Wilhite each had 20 kills for the No. 4 Gophers (25-4, 17-2 Big Ten) while Daly Santana had 17. Tapp hit .500 and also had seven blocks. Audra Appold and Elizabeth Campbell led the Buckeyes with 18 kills apiece.
Minnesota finished the regular season 13-0 at the Sports Pavilion to tie a program record set in 2003 for longest home winning streak. The Gophers have one match left — at Indiana on Saturday — before the NCAA selections are announced Sunday night.
Nebraska (24-4, 15-3) is one game behind Minnesota after beating Illinois 3-0 Tuesday. If the Gophers lose Saturday, the Cornhuskers can tie them for the conference title by beating Penn State at the Devaney Center the same night.
The Gophers were coming off a five-set loss at Purdue last Saturday, which broke their 15-match winnings streak. In that match and in this one, they lost the first two sets.
Against the Buckeyes (22-9, 11-8), the Gophers had a 24-22 lead in the first set but with the score tied at 25, two Gophers attack errors decided it. Minnesota survived several set points in the second set, but lost again after hitting only .068.
Then the match turned. The Gophers hit .333 in the third set and .378 in the fourth. Minnesota built an 8-6 lead in the fifth set and kept it on two late OSU attack errors and Santana’s final kill on match point.