RochThe 2000 Minnesota volleyball team (7-0) returns to the state of Minnesota for four matches this week. The 10th- ranked Golden Gophers play Northern Iowa (5-3) on Wednesday, Sept. 13 at 7 p.m. in Rochester, Minn. at Century High School. Minnesota begins play in the Diet Coke Classic on Friday, Sept. 15, hosting Tennessee (5- 1) at 8 p.m. at the Sports Pavilion. The Golden Gophers will conclude the tournament Saturday, Sept. 16, by playing Seton Hall (4-2) at 1 p.m. and Akron (4-4) at 8 p.m. Minnesota has a chance to finish the non-conference portion of its season without a loss for the first time in school history.
Diet Coke Classic Tournament Schedule The tournament is a four-team, round-robin affair. The schedule is as follows:
Friday, Sept. 15 Akron vs. Seton Hall, 6 p.m. Tennessee vs. Minnesota, 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16 Akron vs. Tennessee, 11 a.m. Seton Hall vs. Minnesota, 1 p.m. Seton Hall vs. Tennessee, 6 p.m. Akron vs. Minnesota, 8 p.m. 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 in the 10th position in the Sept. 4 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. The next poll will be released late Monday, Sept. 11.
Road Trip Review
Minnesota extended its winning streak to seven matches with a road win at Georgia State and a 3-0 record at the Georgia Tech Classic in Atlanta. The Golden Gophers began the week with a 15-11, 15-2, 15-12 win at Georgia State on Thursday, getting a season-high 24 kills from Nicole Branagh (Orinda, Calif./Miramonte). Minnesota opened tournament play Friday, sweeping Coastal Carolina by scores of 15-7, 15-7, 15-13. The Golden Gophers substituted liberally during the match, with 14 Gophers seeing the floor. Minnesota continued its strong play with a 15-7, 15-1, 3-15, 15-8 win at Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets were the first team to take a game from Minnesota this season, but it did not stop a Gopher victory. The Golden Gophers concluded the trip with a 15-10, 16-14, 15-9 sweep of No. 11 Pacific to give Minnesota its second tournament title in as many weeks. It is the first win for Minnesota this season against a nationally ranked opponent. The Golden Gophers are 7-0 to start a season for the first time since 1998 and the sixth time in school history. Minnesota's records for best starts are 10-0 (1998) in the NCAA era, and 11-0 (1974) all-time.
Berg MVP; Fair, VanOort Named All-Tournament
Junior setter Lindsey Berg (Honolulu, Hawaii/Punahou) was named the most valuable player of the Georgia Tech Classic. It is the second time in her career Berg has been named most valuable player in a non-conference tournament, adding to her 1999 Diet Coke Classic MVP award. Berg directed the Minnesota offense to a .263 hitting percentage in the tournament while hitting .250 and serving a team-high nine aces. She established a career-high with nine kills against Georgia Tech. Junior outside hitter Yvonne VanOort (Russelsheim, Germany/V.C. Wiesbaden) and senior middle blocker Charnette Fair (Huntington Beach, Calif./Montclair) were also named to the all-tournament team. VanOort had a Minnesota season- high 19 digs against Georgia Tech, and served the final five points of the first game and the final six points of the match against Pacific. Fair contributed 15 kills and four blocks to the Gophers' three wins.
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 45-9 (.833) with 10 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: 7-0, won Silver Legacy Invitational, Georgia Tech Classic Branagh Bits
Senior outside hitter Nicole Branagh continued her climb up the Big Ten all-time kill leader chart last weekend in Atlanta. She moved past Holly O'Leary of Ohio State during the Georgia Tech match and currently stands eighth among all-time Big Ten players with 1,831 career kills. Branagh is on pace to move past Terri Zemaitis of Penn State into the seventh spot during the Northern Iowa match and is likely to pass Chris Schaefer into third on the Minnesota list and sixth on the Big Ten list during Minnesota's five-match homestand at the Sports Pavilion.
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.Nicole Branagh (Minnesota) 1997-2000 1,831 Branagh's .356 hitting percentage this season is significantly better than her .264 hitting percentage in her first three years. She has 54 digs this season, giving her 874 for her career. Branagh has never missed a match in her 107-match Minnesota career.
Berg Comes Up All Aces
Junior Lindsey Berg was the first player ever to lead the Big Ten in service aces for two consecutive years and is on her way to do it for the third year in a row. She recorded three aces in each of the three matches of the Georgia Tech Classic and has 16 for the season, an average of 0.76 aces per game. Berg's career average entering the season was 0.58 service aces per game. She has 147 career service aces, good for eighth place on the Minnesota all-time list and one shy of former Gopher Emily Ahlquist and seventh place.
Hagen Continues Hot Play
Junior Stephanie Hagen (Minnetonka, Minn./Hopkins) continues to give Minnesota a legitimate middle attack. She is second on the team with 66 kills, including four matches of 10 or more kills. Hagen leads the Minnesota regulars with a .385 hitting percentage, and continues to be the Golden Gophers' all-time leader with a .342 career hitting percentage. Hagen leads Minnesota with 28 blocks and has a 1.40 blocks per game average. She has 38 digs this season, compared to 40 for the entire 1999 season.
Minnesota's team defense is a big factor in the team's 7-0 start. In 1999, the Gophers lowered the opposition's hitting percentage to .155, 81 points lower than the 1998 average. This season, the opponent hitting percentage is at .114, an improvement of 41 points below the 1999 average. In seven of the 19 games this season, the opponent has more errors than kills for a negative hitting percentage. The opponent has been over .200 in just four of the 19 games so far this season.
Northern Iowa (5-3) advanced to the third round of the 1999 NCAA Tournament, but has suffered losses this season at Pepperdine, against Wisconsin in Dubuque, Iowa, and against Washington State on Saturday in Fresno. The Panthers defeated the Gophers in five games last season in Rochester.
Tennessee (5-1) took its first loss of the season Saturday against North Carolina after winning its first five matches. The Lady Vols will host Memphis on Monday before heading to the Twin Cities. Minnesota has not faced Tennessee since 1994.
Seton Hall (4-2) enters the Diet Coke Classic on a four-match winning streak, having defeated Army and Marist on Saturday to win the Seton Hall Spikefest. One of the Pirates' losses was a three-game decision against Ohio State. Minnesota and Seton Hall have never faced off in the sport of volleyball.
Akron (4-4) has wins over American, Villanova, Clemson and Davidson. The Zips have suffered losses to Rider, Cleveland State, South Florida, and Georgia State, the only common opponent for Akron and Minnesota. This will be the first-ever meeting between the two teams. Minnesota is 15-5 lifetime against the Mid- American Conference, including a win over Kent State on Sept. 1.
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 Oct. 29, 4 p.m. vs. Indiana, Nov. 3 MSC Nov. 3, 9:30 p.m. vs. Penn State, Nov. 4 ESPN2 Nov. 7, Noon Up Next for the Gophers
Minnesota opens the Big Ten season at home with matches against Purdue and Illinois on Friday, Sept. 22 and Saturday, Sept. 23. Both matches begin at 7 p.m. at the Sports Pavilion.