The Minnesota volleyball team announced its postseason awards at the team banquet on Sunday, Feb. 12. Minnesota’s team awards included the team MVP, the Maurice Batie Award for most inspirational player, the Golddiggers Booster Club Award and a new Gold Country Award for the highest GPA during the fall semester.
Malama Peniata (Plymouth, Minn.) was named Minnesota’s 2005 Most Valuable Player. Peniata, who was the Kansas State Tournament’s MVP earlier in the season for Minnesota, had the best service ace to service error ratio in the Big Ten with 38 service aces and 16 service errors. Peniata was fourth in the Big Ten in service aces per game and was second on the team with 312 digs. She will enter her senior season with 892 digs, which puts her just 108 away from being the 13th player to reach the 1000-dig career mark.
Senior opposite hitter Jessica Byrnes (Minnetonka, Minn.) received the Maurice Batie Award for most inspirational player on the team and the Golddigger Award for the Minnesota Volleyball Booster Club. Byrnes became the 17th player in school history to record 1,000 career kills for Minnesota this season. She also finished her career fourth on the Golden Gopher’s all-time hitting percentage list at .295. Byrnes finished her career seventh on the career block assists list and tied for second in the most matches played by Golden Gopher in the NCAA era.
Junior middle blocker Meredith Nelson (St. Croix Falls, Wis.) received the first Golden Country Award for the highest GPA during the fall semester. Nelson finished seventh in the Big Ten with a hitting percentage of .332 and led the team with 335 kills. She was second on the team in blocks with 127, and finished the season fifth on the Minnesota career list in blocks and fourth in block assists.
Minnesota finished with 25 wins or more for the sixth time in seven seasons. It was also the sixth time since 1999 that the Golden Gophers finished third or higher in the Big Ten, as they claimed a 14-6 conference record. Minnesota advanced the second round of the NCAA Tournament, before falling to eventual Final Four participant Tennessee in five games in Knoxville, Tenn.