New Brunswick, N.J. - The No. 3-ranked Gophers volleyball team ended the regular season by routing Rutgers 25-13, 25-14, 25-20 on Saturday night.
Minnesota (25-3, 19-1 Big Ten) had its 19-match winning streak ended the night before by No. 7 Penn State in a five-set loss. But the Gophers had little trouble with the Scarlet Knights (6-27, 0-20) who, after a 3-1 nonconference win over Holy Cross on Sept. 5, went winless in all their Big Ten matches.
Freshman Adanna Rollins led Minnesota with 11 kills and hit .360; junior Taylor Morgan added 10 kills and hit .600.
Minnesota took a 15-2 lead in the opening set, scoring 11 consecutive points with Stephanie Samedy serving. Rollins had five kills while Regan Pittman had four kills and four blocks.
In the second set, a 6-0 run gave the Gophers a 18-8 lead and Minnesota won the set on Rutgers’ ninth attack error on 30 attempt that set.
Rutgers was within 20-17 in the third set before Morgan had back-to-back kills to give the Gophers a five-point lead. Rollins got her 11th kill on match point.
The Gophers hit .395, the Scarlet Knights .147. Sahbria McLetchie led Rutgers with 12 kills.
The Gophers, despite the loss to the Nittany Lions, could get one of the top four seeds. Minnesota was No. 2 in the RPI rankings going into the weekend and that’s one of the key criteria the NCAA selection committee considers when seeding the top 16 teams.
Second-place Illinois (28-3, 17-3), which finished the regular season with 13 consecutive wins — tying a program record — after a 3-0 loss on the road to Minnesota on Oct. 12, also has a shot at a top four seed. The No. 4 Illini beat Purdue 3-1 on Saturday and were fourth in RPI rankings.
Nebraska, the defending national champion and No. 6 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association’s latest rankings, No. 7 Penn State, No. 8 Wisconsin and No. 12 Purdue are four other Big Ten teams that appear locks to get at-large NCAA bids. The Gophers won the outright conference title for the Big Ten’s automatic bid.
Eight Big Ten teams made the 2017 NCAA tournament field; Penn State was the No. 1 seed, Nebraska the No. 5 and the Gophers the No. 7.