tThe 11th-ranked Minnesota volleyball team had little trouble in its season-opening match against Kent State, sweeping the Golden Flashes in three games, 15-0, 15-3, 15-6. The match was the opener of the Silver Legacy/Ray Wersching Invitational, hosted by the University of Nevada.
Nicole Branagh had 11 kills to lead the Minnesota offense, which hit .417 for the match. The Gophers had a 36-17 advantage in kills and held the Golden Flashes to a -.086 hitting percentage. Minnesota also held a 7-2 edge in service aces and a 6-1 advantage in blocks.
The Golden Gophers needed 11 minutes to win the first game, limiting the Golden Flashes to six sideouts and no points. The Gophers hit .643 in the first game, led by Branagh's five kills in six attempts. Charnette Fair contributed two blocks, while Lindsey Berg, Stephanie Hagen and Kelli Wicks each served an ace for Minnesota.
Kent State scored the first point of the second game, and took a 3-2 lead before Minnesota established control by scoring the final 13 points of the game. Minnesota continued its offensive efficiency by hitting .414 in the second game. Seven different Gophers contributed kills in the second game, led by Branagh's three kills. Berg, Hagen and Branagh all contributed aces in the game.
Minnesota raced out to a 8-1 lead in the third game, scoring six of the eight points on Branagh's serve. Kent State scored the next four points to cut the lead to 8-5, but Minnesota scored seven of the final eight points to end the match. The Gophers forced 11 hitting errors by Kent State in the third game, leading to a -.158 hitting percentage.
Minnesota will play two matches Saturday to complete play in the Silver Legacy/Ray Wersching Invitational. The Golden Gophers will play California at noon and Nevada at 9:30 p.m.
BIG TEN SCORES
Illinois d. Charleston Southern, 3-0 (15-4, 15-6, 15-4)
Purdue d. Eastern Kentucky, 3-0 (15-3, 15-3, 15-9)
Wisconsin d. Ball State, 3-0 (15-10, 15-4, 15-8)