plThe Minnesota volleyball team announced its postseason awards at the team banquet on Saturday, Feb. 22. Minnesota's team awards included the team MVP, the Maurice Batie Award for most inspirational player and the Golddiggers Booster Club Award.
Cassie Busse (Prior Lake, Minn.) was named Minnesota's 2002 Most Valuable Player. Busse was a Second-Team AVCA All-American and First-Team All-Big Ten. She led the team in kills (548), service aces (77), and was second on the team in blocks (134) and hitting percentage (.323). Busse ended the season first in the Big Ten in blocks, fifth in kills per game and sixth in hitting percentage. She was also was 21st in the nation in service aces per game.
Jessica Byrnes (Minnetonka, Minn.) received the Maurice Batie Award for most inspirational player on the team. Byrnes stepped right into action in the first match of the season, which was also the first of her collegiate career, after Maggie Freiborg (Prinsburg, Minn.) went down with a season-ending ACL injury. Byrnes was a steady presence at middle blocker in her freshman season finishing first on the team in hitting percentage (.323), third on the team in kills (359) and third on the team in blocks (112). She was one of the two players on the Golden Gophers squad to be named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team.
Busse also received the Golddigger Award for the Minnesota Volleyball Booster Club. The award is given to the player who demonstrates a positive attitude during competition on and off the court and also helps promote a positive image for the University of Minnesota.
Minnesota finished the 2002 season ranked No. 11 in the nation and won a school record (in the NCAA era) 32 matches. The Golden Gophers claimed their first Big Ten title with a 17-3 conference record.