Against their first ranked Big Ten opponent, the Minnesota volleyball team took down No. 20 Purdue in front of a Sunday crowd of 4,374 at the Sports Pavilion. The No. 9 Golden Gophers swept the Boilermakers in straight sets winning 25-22, 25-21, and 25-19.
Minnesota improved to 14-1 on the season and are now 2-0 in the conference. Leading the way for the Gophers were seniors Tori Dixon and Ashley Wittman who both recorded double-digit kills in the victory. Wittman earned a double-double in the match, adding 14 digs to go along with her match-high 15 kills.
“Our strength, in my opinion today, was some good serving,” said Minnesota head coach Hugh McCutcheon after the match. The Gophers were lead on the service line by sophomore Daly Santana, who hit the team’s only two aces of the day. The Puerto Rican outside hitter mixed in eight kills and 11 digs.
Purdue had troubles handling Minnesota at the net as the Gophers out-blocked the Boilermakers 12-to-3 overall. The duo of Dixon and Wittman were dominant in the win and provided over half of the team’s total attacks and nine combined block assists.
“It’s nice to have the fans out there, especially on a Sunday afternoon game,” said Wittman. “It’s that much more fun and it helps our momentum.”
Despite the win over Purdue, the Maroon and Gold will have to tighten the screws and prepare for a tough road stretch, including taking on No. 12 Nebraska in Lincoln on Friday.
Stops at Iowa, No. 1 Penn State, and No. 13 Ohio State await the Gophers after that. Then Minnesota returns home on Oct. 18 to host No. 15 Michigan State. Expect another big crowd as the match will be nationally televised on ESPN2.
With a mix of a strong, physical front-court play and solid serving, Minnesota has all the tools they need to continue to work through the remainder of the conference season and stay in the Top 10.