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    Northwestern Grounded By No. 7 Minnesota, 3-1

    Oct. 27, 2013

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    Minnesota Golden Gophers No. 7 Minnesota 3, Northwestern 1
    Sports Pavilion • Minneapolis, Minn. • Attendance: 4,018

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    MINNEAPOLIS -- Northwestern battled the seventh-ranked team in the country all afternoon long, but the Wildcats fell short against the Minnesota Golden Gophers Sunday, falling 3-1 (25-16, 25-17, 22-25, 25-22) at the Sports Pavilion in Minneapolis.

    "There are no easy days in the Big Ten and this one was no exception. It was similar to our last match against Illinois on Wednesday in that we didn't get off to a great start this afternoon," said Northwestern head coach Keylor Chan. "Once again though we didn't back down and we didn't give up. Minnesota played consistently all match and in the end we fell short."

    Northwestern (13-9, 5-5 Big Ten) was slow to get started in the Sunday matinee. Minnesota exploded out of the gate offensively as it built a quick 9-3 lead that prompted Chan to call an early timeout. Stephanie Holthus responded with her first kill of the match out of the break, but the Golden Gophers soon pushed their edge to as many as nine points at 14-5. From that point on, NU would only come as close as six points (16-10) when Savannah Paffen blocked UM's Tori Dixon. Minnesota played a well-rounded frame as it took the first set, 25-16, behind an attacking percentage of .417 and 20 digs.

    The scored was tied at six points apiece following a kill from Northwestern's Yewande Akanbi before Minnesota rattled off five-straight winners to take an 11-6 lead. Akanbi terminated another ball out of a timeout and then Holthus and Maggie Burnham teamed up for a Wildcat block to get their team to within three scores at 11-8. Unfortunately for the visitors, they would be unable to close the gap further as the Gophers pulled off a 25-17 victory to take a 2-0 for the match.

    Facing a two-set deficit for the second time this week, the Wildcats charged out of the locker room and took control of the third game at the onset. With newcomer Kayla Morin serving, Chicago's Big Ten Team scored the first four points, including a pair of service aces. Minnesota responded with four-straight points of its own before Northwestern ripped off a 7-0 run to go up 11-4. Later the Gophers fought off four-straight set points as the cut the deficit to just two, but redshirt junior Katie Dutchman soon sealed the set for Northwestern, 25-22, with her ninth kill of the afternoon.

    Dutchman paced the Wildcats with five kills in the third set. As a team, NU sided out the Golden Gophers at a clip of 59 percent, its highest rate of the day.

    Northwestern scored the first two points of the fourth frame on kills from Dutchman and Holthus, but Minnesota scored the next five to take a brief 5-2 lead. The 'Cats regained a one-point lead at 9-8 on back-to-back blocks from Burnham, with help from Caleigh Ryan. The back-and-forth nature of the fourth continued. Later, Morin notched a kill to give NU a three-point lead, 15-12, and prompt the Golden Gophers to call the first timeout of the set.

    Minnesota eventually wiped out its deficit and tied the affair at 19-19. The two teams traded quick scores, but with 21 points a side on the scoreboard, the home team scored the next three points to take the lead for good. The Wildcats fought off one set point, but a swing from Dixon found the floor and the Gophers escaped with a 25-22 fourth-set victory and a hard-fought 3-1 win for the match.

    Akanbi led the Wildcats with a season-high 16 kills Sunday, while Holthus (12) and Dutchman (10) were also in double figures for the visitors.

    Caroline Niedospial anchored the back row once again for Northwestern. The libero tallied a career-high 29 digs, while Ryan finished with 10 to go along with a match-high 46 assists to secure the seventh double-double of her young career.

    The Wildcats will continue their three-match road trip on Friday, Nov. 1 when they will battle the Iowa Hawkeyes a Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City at 7 p.m. The 'Cats swept Iowa, 3-0, in the first meeting between the two squads this season on Sept. 28.

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