Gophers sweep Bison in NCAA first round volleyball

MINNEAPOLIS – Ashley Wittman had nine of her match-high 14 kills in the third set to lead 12th-ranked Minnesota to a 25-21, 25-21, 25-12 win over North Dakota State in the first round of the NCAA Division I women’s volleyball tournament Friday, Dec. 3, at the Sports Pavilion.

Lauren Gibbemeyer hit .455 with 11 kills and Tabi Love had 10 kills for the Gophers, who improved to 25-8 with their eighth straight victory. Brynn Joki had 10 kills and Megan Lambertson hit .429 with six kills and five blocks for North Dakota State, which ended its season 20-11 overall.

It was NDSU’s fourth straight 20-win season. Jessica Granquist made a match-high 17 digs, Wittman added 16 digs and setter Mia Tabberson had 38 assists and 10 digs as the Gophers outhit NDSU .306 to .122 and outdug the Bison 65-40. Joki completed her 10th double-double of the season with a team-high 12 digs.

Lambertson’s five blocks led all players and the Bison had a 7-5 advantage in total blocks against the taller Gophers. North Dakota State jumped out to an 8-4 lead in the first set before Minnesota went on an 8-0 run. Dixon had four straight kills to force an NDSU timeout and Love and Dixon got the next two points to make it 12-8 Gophers. The Bison trailed by as many as seven before making a 5-0 run to close within 22-20. Gibbemeyer and Tabberson got a pair of kills to reach set point, Lambertson’s kill made it 24-21 before Tabberson’s dump shot won it. NDSU opened up a 12-6 lead in the second set after a Jennifer Lopez ace and two blocks. Minnesota answered with a 7-2 run and it was tied at 15 before Love scored the Gophers’ next four points to go ahead for good.

Minnesota went on an early 6-0 run in the third set to go ahead 7-2, and Wittman had five kills on a 10-0 run to put the Gophers up 22-8. Minnesota advanced to face Creighton in the second round at 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4. The Bluejays beat Iowa State in five sets earlier Friday.

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