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Minnesota Athletics | October 31, 2021

No. 11 Minnesota outlasts No. 6 Nebraska in a five set thriller

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MINNEAPOLIS — The No. 11 Minnesota Golden Gophers volleyball team outlasted the No. 6 Nebraska Cornhuskers in five sets, 25-22, 28-30, 25-21, 23-25, 15-9 on Saturday night at Maturi Pavilion.

"What was great about the win was the way we were able to stay in control despite suffering some heartache in the second set," said head coach Hugh McCutcheon. "It was a great environment tonight at the Pav - tons of juice in the building. It's great to come away with this win against a really good Nebraska team."

The Golden Gophers (14-6, 9-3 Big Ten) were paced by redshirt senior opposite Stephanie Samedy, who registered 20 kills and a season-high 26 digs. Jenna Wenaas had a career-high 22 kills while Melani Shaffmaster tallied three kills, 45 assists, 21 digs and four blocks.

As a team, Minnesota hit .168 with 59 kills, eight aces, 107 digs and 10 blocks. Nebraska (16-5, 10-2 Big Ten) hit .135 with 68 kills, five aces, 97 digs and 14 blocks. Madi Kubik led Nebraska with 15 kills.

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Set Breakdown

Set 1: Nebraska started the match on a 6-3 run before the Gophers answered by scoring eight of the next 11 to go up 12-9. Aces by McGraw and Myers and two kills by Miyabe proved to be key in the run. The Huskers tied it up at 12 with a 3-0 run of their own before kills from Miyabe and Samedy gave the Gophers a 15-13 lead heading into the media timeout. Minnesota's lead was cut to just one at 17-16 before the 'U' exploded on a 7-1 lead to go up 24-17 and force an NU timeout. Three Wenaas kills and a dual block with Myers led the spurt. The Huskers weren't done in set one, however, scoring four straight points to cut the lead to 24-21 and force a timeout from coach McCutcheon. After one more point from the visitors, Katie Myers ended the set with a block and Minnesota took set one, 25-22. The Gophers hit .222 in set one while the Huskers hit .133. Wenaas led Minnesota with five kills and seven digs while Miyabe had four kills.

Set 2: Minnesota started set two on a 3-0 after two NU attacking errors and a block from Shaffmaster and Myers. The Huskers would respond, however, with a 7-0 run to take the lead and force a timeout from coach McCutcheon. The Gophers would get right back in it with a 6-2 run to tie it at nine. A pair of kills from Samedy and the second ace of the match from Myers proved to be key in the run. The Huskers would score three of the next four to take a 12-11 lead before a 5-1 run from the home team forced NU into taking a timeout, trailing 16-13. Aces from Samedy and Shaffmaster and a kill from Samedy helped turn the tide in the mid-set spurt. The 'U' kept its foot on the gas, pushing its lead out to five at 21-16. Three NU attacking errors and two kills from Samedy forced the Huskers into calling another timeout. The Gophers would go up 24-20 after the eighth kill of the match from Wenaas but two straight points from NU led to a timeout from coach McCutcheon. Nebraska would eventually tie it up and the two teams would exchange points all the way up until 28-28. NU took the final two points to win the set, 30-28. The Gophers hit .108 in the second set. Samedy led the way with six kills and 10 digs while Wenaas had four kills and three digs in set two. NU hit .138 and had a trio of players with four kills.

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Set 3: The Gophers started set three with a 3-1 after two more kills from Samedy got them started. A 5-3 run for NU tied it up at 6-6 before a 5-2 Minnesota run put the home team up 11-8 and forced a Huskers timeout. Miyabe had a kill and combined for a block with Shea Rubright in the run. Minnesota would extend its lead to as many as eight at 21-13 after a couple kills from Wenaas, one from Samedy and a pair of blocks. NU called its second timeout of the set following a block from Miyabe and Rubright, which put the 'U' up eight. A pair of errors from the visitors and Samedy's 12th kill of the match gave the Gophers a 24-18 lead and put them at set point once again. NU would respond with three straight points, forcing a timeout from coach McCutcheon. Jenna Wenaas closed out the set with her 13th kill of the match immediately following the timeout and put her team up 2-1 with the 25-21 third set win. Minnesota hit .176 and held NU to .096 for the set. Samedy and Wenaas paced the offense with four kills each while Miyabe and Rubright had two blocks each.

Set 4: Minnesota took an early 5-2 fourth set lead after a pair of kills from Samedy, one from Rubright and two errors from NU. The Huskers would tie it up at 6-6 after a pair of kills and a block. The Gophers went on a 7-4 run after NU tied it up to go up 13-10, getting a pair of kills each from Samedy and Wenaas, a solo block from Myers and a combo block from Shaffmaster and Rubright. The Huskers would cut the deficit to just one at 15-14 heading into the media timeout. The Huskers scored three straight points after the break to retake the lead, 17-15, getting a pair of blocks in the run, leading to a timeout from coach McCutcheon. Minnesota would respond with a 5-1 run to go up 20-18 after the timeout, paced by a kill and a consecutive ace by Shaffmaster. The Huskers weren't ready to concede, however, and scored five of the next six points to go up 23-21 and force a Gophers timeout. The 'U' would cut the lead to one at 23-22 and 24-23 before Nebraska closed out the set with a kill to win, 25-23. Minnesota hit .160 in set four compared to .170 for the visitors. Samedy posted six kills on the set while Wenaas had five.

Set 5: The two teams exchanged the first six points before a service error by Nebraska and an ace from Jenna Wenaas gave the home team a 5-3 lead. NU would tie it up at five, six and seven before their third service error of the set gave the 'U' an 8-7 lead heading into the media timeout. NU would tie it up at eight and nine before two straight kills from Wenaas put the Gophers up 11-9 and forced a timeout from the visitors. A ball-handling error from Nebraska and a kill from Wenaas gave Minnesota a 13-9 lead and forced the Huskers into taking a timeout. The Gophers closed out the match with a kill from Wenaas and an ace from Samedy to win, 15-9.

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