The 2000 Minnesota volleyball team (3-0) continues the non-conference portion of its season with four matches in Atlanta. The 10th-ranked Golden Gophers play at Georgia State (4-2) on Thursday, Sept. 7 at 6 p.m. before entering the four-team Georgia Tech Classic. Minnesota will play two matches Friday, against Coastal Carolina at 10 a.m. and Georgia Tech (4-0) at 6 p.m. The Golden Gophers will conclude the trip by playing 11th- ranked Pacific (3-0) on Saturday, Sept. 9 at 11 a.m. It will be Minnesota's first match this season against a nationally ranked opponent. The Golden Gophers have won their last three non-conference tournaments dating back to last season and eight of the last 12 non-conference tournaments played.
The Poll - Welcome to the Top Ten
For the first time since Oct. 10, 1989, the Minnesota volleyball team ranked is in the top ten nationally. The Golden Gophers are up one spot to the 10th position in this week's AVCA/USA Today poll after their No. 11 preseason ranking. Minnesota, which finished the 1999 season in the 16th position in the USA Today poll, has only been ranked higher for two weeks in the program's history. The Gophers were ranked ninth in the NCAA polls of Oct. 3 and Oct. 10, 1989. Minnesota is one of five Big Ten teams in the USA Today poll.
Branagh Named Big Ten Co-Player of the Week
Golden Gopher senior outside hitter Nicole Branagh (Orinda, Calif./Miramonte) was named the Big Ten Co- Player of the Week for Sept. 4, sharing the award with Illinois middle blocker Betsy Spicer. It is the fifth time that Branagh has been honored with this award, the most of any Gopher in program history. Branagh and Spicer were two of the three unanimous selections on the 2000 Preseason All-Big Ten Team.
Road Trip Review
Minnesota opened its season with three three-game sweeps at the Silver Legacy/Ray Wersching Invitational in Reno, Nev. The Golden Gophers began the tournament with a 15- 0, 15-3, 15-6 dispatching of Kent State on Friday, needing just 68 minutes to defeat the Golden Flashes. Minnesota continued its impressive play Saturday, sweeping California by scores of 15-6, 15-6, 15-5. The Golden Gophers closed out the tournament by defeating the host school, Nevada, by scores of 15-9, 15-6, 15-9. It was the first time in 18 matches Nevada had been swept on its home floor, the last time coming against UC-Santa Barbara on Oct. 21, 1998. The Wolfpack had won 13 of its past 17 matches at home before losing to Minnesota. The Gophers outscored their opponents 135-50 in the tournament and did not allow an opponent to score 10 points in any game against them.
Branagh MVP; Berg, Hagen Named All-Tournament
Senior outside hitter Nicole Branagh was named the most valuable player of the Silver Legacy/Ray Wersching Invitational. It is the third time in her career Branagh has been named most valuable player in a non-conference tournament. She led Minnesota in kills in each of the three matches, including 16 in the Gophers' win over California. Branagh hit .481 in the tournament with 42 kills and just five errors in 77 attempts. Junior setter Lindsey Berg (Honolulu, Hawaii/Punahou) and junior middle blocker Stephanie Hagen (Minnetonka, Minn./ Hopkins) were also named to the all-tournament team. Berg directed the Minnesota offense to a .371 hitting percentage in the tournament while hitting .643 and serving a team-high four aces. Hagen was second on the Minnesota team with 32 kills, 24 digs, and led Minnesota with 11 blocks.
Head Coach Mike Hebert
Minnesota head coach Mike Hebert is in his 25th season as a collegiate volleyball head coach and his fifth at the helm of the Golden Gophers. Hebert has a Minnesota record of 94-44 (.681) while guiding the Golden Gophers to NCAA Tournament appearances in 1996, 1997 and 1999. Last season, he piloted Minnesota to second place in the Big Ten and the regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament. Hebert earned the 1999 Big Ten Coach of the Year and AVCA District 2 Coach of the Year awards. Overall, he owns a career mark of 666-301 (.689).
The Assistant Coaches
Brian Heffernan and Janet Cobbs Mulholland enter the Minnesota program as new assistant coaches for the 2000 season. Heffernan, a Penn State graduate, has experience as an assistant coach for the Pepperdine men's volleyball team, while Cobbs Mulholland will draw on her five years of experience with the United States National Volleyball Team.
Minnesota has been very successful in non-conference play during Mike Hebert's first four-plus years in the Twin Cities. The Golden Gophers are 41-9 (.820) with seven tournament titles before the beginning of Big Ten play. A year-by-year breakdown:
1996: 9-4, won Boston College Eagle Classic 1997: 10-1, won three tournaments 1998: 10-1, won two tournaments 1999: 9-3, won two tournaments 2000: 3-0, won Silver Legacy Invitational Branagh Bits
Senior outside hitter Nicole Branagh continued her climb up the Big Ten all-time kill leader chart last weekend at Nevada. She moved into the top 10 during the California match and currently stands ninth among all- time Big Ten players with 1,778 career kills. Branagh is on pace to move past Holly O'Leary of Ohio State this weekend for eight place and has a chance to move past Terri Zemaitis of Penn State into the seventh spot.
Big Ten Conference All-Time Kill Leaders 1.Katrien DeDecker (Minnesota) 1993-96 2,300 2.Jenna Wrobel (Michigan State) 1995-98 2,292 3.Andrea Gonzalez (Minnesota) 1985-88 2,140 4.Debbie McDonald (Purdue) 1986-89 2,108 5.Veronica Morales (Mich. St.) 1994-97 2,006 6.Chris Schaefer (Minnesota) 1986-89 1,896 7.Terri Zemaitis (Penn State) 1994-97 1,842 8.Holly O'Leary (Ohio State) 1987-90 1,802 9.Nicole Branagh (Minnesota) 1997-2000 1,778 Branagh's .481 hitting percentage in Nevada was significantly better than her .264 career hitting percentage. She led Minnesota with 28 digs, giving her 848 for her career. Branagh has never missed a match in her 103-match Minnesota career.
Berg Reaches Milestone
Junior Lindsey Berg reached a career milestone Saturday against California by recording her 3,000th career assist. She is the fourth Gopher setter in history to reach the plateau. Berg now has 3,058 career assists. She recorded four service aces in the three matches last weekend, giving her 135 for her career and leaving her two shy of former Gopher Pam Miller and 10th place on the all-time Gopher list.
Hagen Continues Solid Play
Junior Stephanie Hagen continued her hot play from the end of the 1999 season, hitting .463 with 32 kills in 54 attempts at Nevada. She led Minnesota with 11 blocks in the three victories. Hagen had never had more than six digs in a match before the Reno tournament, but surpassed that number in all three matches, including a career-high nine against Nevada. She has 24 digs this season, compared to 40 for the entire 1999 season.
Don't Forget About Fair
Senior Charnette Fair (Huntington Beach, Calif./ Montclair) could have very easily been on the all- tournament team at Reno. The middle blocker pounded 30 kills in 59 attempts and hit .390 in the three matches. Fair led Minnesota with three solo blocks and was second on the team with nine total blocks. With two double- figure kill matches on the trip, Fair has 10 or more kills in five of her last seven matches dating back to last season.
Georgia State (4-2) is on a four-match winning streak entering Thursday's match with Minnesota. The Panthers lost two three-game decisions to Davidson and Georgia Tech before defeating UNC-Wilmington, High Point, North Carolina A&T and Elon in three-game sweeps.
Coastal Carolina (1-3) opened its season last weekend at a tournament in Chapel Hill, N.C. The Lady Chanticleers lost three-game decisions to Hofstra and North Carolina before defeating East Tennessee State in five games. Coastal Carolina closed the tournament with a three-game loss to Pittsburgh.
Georgia Tech (4-0) won the Davidson Tournament last weekend, defeating Davidson twice, UNC-Wilmington and Georgia State. The Yellow Jackets' leading hitters are junior right-side hitter Enkeleida Mabry (3.38 kills/ game, .265 hitting pct.) and junior left-side hitter Maja Pachale (4.88 kills/game, .373 hitting pct.).
No. 11 Pacific (3-0) won the Pacific Invitational last weekend, sweeping Sacramento State, Maryland and Michigan in three games each. Senior setter Kara Gormsen was named the Big West Co-Player of the Week after earning Most Outstanding Player honors at the Pacific Invitational. The Tigers will host Santa Clara on Tuesday before heading to Atlanta.
Minnesota Television Schedule Finalized
The Minnesota volleyball team will be televised in the Twin Cities on six occasions during the 2000 season. Four of the broadcasts will be produced locally by Midwest Sports Channel. The Golden Gophers will appear once on the Big Ten's Match of the Week on Fox Sports Channel, which will be shown in Minnesota on Midwest Sports Channel. Minnesota will appear once as part of the Big Ten's three-match package on ESPN2. The Gopher schedule:
Match Network Air Time vs. Wisconsin, Oct. 6 MSC LIVE vs. Iowa, Oct. 11 MSC LIVE vs. Ohio State, Oct. 13 MSC LIVE at Wisconsin, Oct. 28 Fox Sports (MSC)10/29,4 p.m. vs. Indiana, Nov. 3 MSC 11/3, 9:30 p.m. vs. Penn State, Nov. 4 ESPN2 11/7, Noon Up Next for the Gophers
The Golden Gophers return to the state of Minnesota for their next six matches. Minnesota hosts Northern Iowa at Century High School in Rochester, Minn., on Wednesday, Sept. 13 at 7 p.m. The Gophers return to the Sports Pavilion to play in the Diet Coke Classic against Tennessee (Friday, Sept. 15, 8 p.m.), Seton Hall (Saturday, Sept. 16, 1 p.m.) and Akron (Saturday, Sept. 16, 8 p.m.). Minnesota opens the Big Ten season at home with matches against Purdue and Illinois on Friday, Sept. 22 and Saturday, Sept. 23.