Gophers fire a volley over the border, knock off top ranked Badgers

It was #1 vs. #3 when the Minnesota volleyball team went to Wisconsin and cooked up some Badger stew.
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Middle blocker Molly Lohman from Mankato had nine blocks Wednesday night.

Middle blocker Molly Lohman from Mankato had nine blocks Wednesday night.

If you go by the rankings, two of the three best teams in all of women's college volleyball took the court in Madison, Wisconsin, Wednesday night.

And it was #3 Minnesota that outclassed #1 Wisconsin, beating the Badgers in three straight sets in front of a sellout crowd at the UW Fieldhouse.

The Gophers briefly held the top spot in the rankings themselves earlier this month but a road loss to 10th ranked Penn State knocked them down a couple notches in the estimation of the American Volleyball Coaches Association voters.

Perhaps Minnesota's dismantling of the Badgers will vault them back to the top. Wisconsin had won 14 straight home matches, with ESPN noting the last team to beat them in Madison was Minnesota a year ago.

The Gophers' hitting percentage for Wednesday's match was .353 compared to Wisconsin's .050. The other lopsided stat was blocks, where Minnesota had 14 to Wisconsin's three.

Molly Lohman, a junior from Mankato, had nine of the Gophers' blocks, which is a season high for Lohman.

No slouches on the schedule

As impressive as this win was, Minnesota will need to focus on the tough road ahead if they want to keep some momentum going. And we do mean road.

The Gophers are at 14th ranked Michigan State on Saturday, followed by road matches next week against Iowa and #2 Nebraska.

Asked about the sellout in Madison, where the Fieldhouse holds 10,600, Minnesota coach Hugh McCutcheon told the Pioneer Press before the match: “I think it’s awesome that we’re sold out. How great for volleyball that we’re selling out across the country in the Big Ten, and it’ll happen here when they come here.”

Chapter Two of the Border Battle will be the final match of the regular season. The Badgers visit Minneapolis on Nov. 26, just a few days after Nebraska is in town.

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