As Indiana volleyball’s season winds down and the push towards the postseason begins, the Hoosiers looked to pick up a win and resume booster against Minnesota at home Sunday. The Golden Gophers entered the match coming off a four-set loss to Purdue at home, while the Hoosiers picked up a win in four sets against Rutgers on Friday
Indiana’s offense found its rhythm early in the opening set, taking a 10-7 lead and prompting a Golden Gopher timeout. Indiana continued to serve red hot with senior outside hitter Kenzie Dafinee serving up consecutive aces, giving the Hoosiers a 17-8 lead heading into Minnesota’s final timeout. Sophomore outside hitter Candela Alonso-Corcelles notched three straight kills en route to a 25-13 opening set victory for the Hoosiers. Alonso-Corcelles led all players with eight kills in the opening frame hitting .462. Indiana hit .483 compared to Minnesota’s .167.
“Obviously, to come out of the gate that fast is a huge plus for us,” Indiana head coach Steve Aird said post-match.
Both teams struggled blocking in the second set, giving wide-open kills to attackers on both sides. Minnesota started to gain momentum, leading 12-8 and forcing a timeout from Indiana. Out of the timeout, Indiana gained momentum with senior middle blocker Savannah Kjolhede contributing to two straight blocks, pulling Indiana within two. A back-and-forth offensive battle ensued with Indiana closing the gap down 21-20 and making Minnesota take a timeout to reset. Alonso-Corcelles notched her third service ace of the match, giving Indiana the lead 23-22 late in set two. After a marathon of extra points, Minnesota took the second set 32-30 and evened up the match at a set apiece.
Alonso-Corcelles had five kills in the second set and the team hit .233 with 17 kills. Meanwhile, Minnesota hit .262 with 19 kills.
Indiana shed the offensive struggles from late in the second set, taking a quick 8-4 lead to open the third. The Hoosiers continued to push the pace leading 18-14 midway through the third off a wide-open kill from Kjolhede. A push from the Golden Gophers led to an Indiana timeout leading 18-16. Minnesota struggled late in the third against the tough serving and defense from Indiana, helping the Hoosiers take the third set 25-19.
Minnesota quickly stormed out to a 4-0 lead in the fourth set before Indiana found its footing. With Minnesota’s defense struggling to put balls up, Indiana continued to use crafty shots to finish plays. After falling down early, the Hoosiers cut the lead down to one, trailing 10-9. Sophomore opposite Avry Tatum added a kill and immediately followed it up with an ace to pull Indiana within two, down 15-17. A solo block from Alonso-Corcelles tied the match at 17 and another ace from Tatum gave Indiana the lead. Minnesota took the fourth set with a service ace tying the match two sets all.
Indiana struggled offensively with 11 kills and five errors while Minnesota had 17 kills hitting .297. Junior outside hitter and reigning Big Ten Player of the Year Taylor Landfair found her groove for Minnesota, adding six kills in the fourth set.
Indiana struggled early in the fifth with three kills and four errors before taking a timeout down 8-4. Out of the timeout Indiana added a trio of points to pull within one. An attacking error from Alsonso-Corcelles set up the match point for Minnesota up 14-12. The Golden Gophers took the fifth set and the match 3-2. Both teams struggled offensively in the final set with Minnesota hitting .000 while Indiana hit .034.
“I thought we did enough to probably win. We lost the match by seven points,” Aird said.
Alonso-Corcelles led all players with 23 kills, a career, followed by graduate student middle blocker Kaley Rammelsberg with 13 kills. Haworth had a career high in assists with 58 alongside 12 digs and four kills.
Indiana awaits Maryland and Wisconsin for the final two home games of the regular season. The Hoosiers host the Terrapins on Friday before No. 2 Wisconsin comes to town Nov. 19 for senior night.
Follow reporter Michael Livingston (@mblivingston_) for updates throughout the Indiana volleyball season.