Dec. 4, 2010

Courtesy of Minnesota Athletics

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - The Minnesota volleyball team (25-8) defeated North Dakota State (20-11) in three sets by scores of 25-21, 25-21, 25-12 to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament at the Sports Pavilion on Friday, Dec. 3.

Minnesota will face Creighton who defeated Iowa State in five sets by scores of 27-25, 16-25, 25-23, 19-25, 15-11 in the first match of the night.

It marks the 13th time in 14 NCAA First-Round matchups that the Gophers have advanced to the second round under head coach Mike Hebert. Minnesota is also 15-2 in NCAA Tournament home matches.

The Gophers were led by Ashley Wittman (Shakopee, Minn.) who had 14 kills and 16 digs on the night. The double-double was the 17th of the year for Wittman. Senior middle blocker Lauren Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minn.) hit .455 (11-1-22) with 11 kills and four blocks. Tabi Love (Dauphin, Manitoba) finished with 10 kills and two blocks in the match.

Sophomore setter Mia Tabberson (Muncie, Ind.) finished with a career-best six kills, 38 assists and 10 digs on the night. Tori Dixon (Burnsville, Minn.) also finished with eight kills, four digs and two blocks on the night. Jessica Granquist (Blaine, Minn.) had a match-high 17 digs, while Steffi Sooter (Santa Cruz, Calif.) had nine digs on the night.

North Dakota State raced out to an 8-4 lead out of the gate, but the Gophers countered with an 8-0 run and moved ahead 12-8 on a Dixon kill. Minnesota expanded the lead to 21-15 after a kill by Gibbemeyer. After the Gophers moved ahead 22-15, the Bison scored five straight points and cut the lead to 22-20 on a kill by Megan Lambertson. Gibbemeyer and Tabberson followed with consecutive kills to make it set point at 24-20. After a kill by Lamberston, Tabberson delivered a kill to give the Gophers the first set.

Dixon finished the first set with six kills in 12 swings, and Tabberson also collected five kills. The Bison ran out to a 12-6 lead in the second set after Lamberston and Nicole Sheridan combined on a block. Gibbemeyer and Love combined on a block to tie the set at 15 after scoring nine of 12 points. Love put Minnesota up 16-15 with a kill.

North Dakota State tied it at 16, but the Gophers scored four of the next five points and moved ahead on a service ace by Tabberson to make it 20-17. With the score at 21-20, the Bison committed an attack error and Gibbemeyer and Katherine Harms (Albertville, Minn.) combine on a block to make it 23-20. Gibbemeyer put the set away with a kill to give the Gophers a 25-21 second-set victory.

Minnesota outhit North Dakota State .393 (15-4-28) to -.061 (5-7-33) in the third set, and had 15 kills to five. Wittman took over in the set, as she collected nine kills.

The Gophers outhit the Bison .306 (50-16-111) to .122 (30-16-115) on the night, and had 50 kills to 30 for North Dakota State. Minnesota also had 65 digs to 40 for the Bison, but North Dakota State did outblock the Gophers 7.0-to-5.0.

North Dakota State was led by Brynn Joki who had 10 kills and 12 digs. Lambertson finished with six kills and a match-high five blocks. Setter Jennifer Lopez had 26 assists and five digs, while Lauren McLaughlin finished with nine digs.

In the earlier match, Creighton overcame 26 kills and 21 digs by Victoria Henson to win in five sets. Karisa Almgren finished with 14 kills, while Heather Thorson had 12 kills and hit .375. Setter Megan Bober had six kills, 46 assists, 11 digs and seven blocks, while Nayka Benita had 34 digs and six assists.

Iowa State got 35 digs and seven assists from Ashley Mass. Carly Jenson also had 17 kills and 21 digs, while Jamie Straube had 12 kills, five digs and three blocks.

The Cyclones finished with 116 digs to 89 for Creighton, who entered the match second in the nation in digs. Iowa State also had 77 kills to .65, and narrowly outhit the Bluejays .245 to .237. Creighton had 11 blocks to five for the Cyclones on the night, and only committed 15 attack errors.