State College, Pa. – Junior outside hitter Stephanie Samedy had 21 kills and hit .475 to lead the No. 8 Gophers to a 3-1 victory over No. 7 Penn State on Saturday night in Big Ten volleyball. With the win — Minnesota’s first in Happy Valley since Oct. 2, 2004 — the Gophers tied with Penn State and Nebraska for second place in the conference at 17-3.
All three of those teams finished a game behind No. 5 Wisconsin (22-6, 18-2 Big Ten), which beat Rutgers 3-0 to win the Big Ten title outright after losing to Penn State 3-2 the night before.
Minnesota, 23-5 overall, lost the first set against the Nittany Lions 19-25, but then won the next three 25-20, 25-20, 25-23. Samedy’s final kill gave the Gophers a 24-23 lead in the fourth set, and then teammates Alexis Hart and Regan Pittman combined to block a shot by Serena Gray on match point.
Hart had 12 kills for Minnesota, Adanna Rollins 11. Pittman had seven blocks. Kylie Miller had 49 assists.
Tori Gorrell had 17 kills and Gray and Kaitlyn Hord 13 kills each for the Nittany Lions.
“We feel good. We put our hearts out there. We competed. Just doing what we could to win the match and I think we did a good job,” Samedy said in a postmatch interview on the Big Ten Network. “Looking forward to compete [in NCAA tournament]. Every match is win or go home.”
The Gophers hit .284 for the match, Penn State .250.
Wisconsin swept Rutgers 25-13, 25-12, 25-21 to clinch the conference title. No. 6 Nebraska got a share of second place by defeating Ohio State 25-15, 25-16, 25-19 in Lincoln on the last night of the regular season.
Last year two Big Ten teams reached the volleyball final four at Target Center. The Cornhuskers lost to Stanford in the championship match after beating Illinois in the semifinals.