AtlSenior Nicole Branagh had 24 kills at a .500 hitting percentage to lead 10th-ranked Minnesota to a 15-11, 15-2, 15-12 victory over Georgia State in Atlanta. The Golden Gophers improve their season record to 4-0, while Georgia State had a four-match winning streak broken and drops to 4-3.
Branagh has led Minnesota in kills in every match this season. She now has 1,802 career kills, moving into a tie for eighth place on the all-time Minnesota list. Lindsey Berg led the Minnesota offense to a .368 hitting percentage and served three aces with her jump serve. Yvonne VanOort added eight kills and a team-high 14 digs.
Minnesota struggled in the first game but managed to win a 15-11 decision. The Gophers erased a 4-2 Georgia State lead with four points on the serves of Branagh and Lisa Aschenbrenner. The Lady Panthers tied the game at 6-6, but never led after that point. Branagh had nine kills in the opening game with a .692 hitting percentage. VanOort had five kills and teamed with Stephanie Hagen on a block to end the game.
The Gophers came out fast in the second game, scoring the first three points on Aschenbrenner's serve and never looking back in a 15-2 rout. Minnesota scored the final five points of the second game behind Berg's jump serve. The Gophers played better defense in the second game, as Georgia State was held to a -.063 hitting percentage, compared to a .405 hitting percentage in the first game. Branagh had five of Minnesota's 11 kills in the second game.
Georgia State led for the majority of the third game. Minnesota took its first lead of the third game at 8-7 on Bethany Brafford's kill off of the overpass of a Berg serve. After the game's sixth tie at 12-12, VanOort served an ace to give the Gophers a 13-12 lead. Branagh hammered home two kills to give Minnesota the match.
The Gophers open play in the Georgia Tech Classic with two matches Friday. Minnesota will play Coastal Carolina at 10 a.m. and Georgia Tech at 6 p.m. The Gophers will close play in the tournament against No. 11 Pacific on Saturday at 11 a.m.