HilThe 20th-ranked University of Minnesota volleyball team (3-4) won its third match in a row with a three-game victory over Xavier (5-2) by scores of 30-18, 30-20, 30-21 in the first match of the UF Hilton Classic at the O'Connell Center on Friday, Sept. 12. With the victory the Golden Gophers advance to the UF Hilton Classic finals to take on No. 3 Florida.
Minnesota jumped out to a quick 7-2 lead in game one. Xavier scored seven of the 11 points to cut the lead to 11-9. However, the Golden Gophers went on a 7-0 run keyed by four Trisha Bratford (Reseda, Calif.) kills to go up 18-9. Minnesota continued to add to the lead going up 23-11 before taking game one 30-18. Bratford paced the Golden Gophers with five kills in the game, while Cassie Busse (Prior Lake, Minn.) and Meredith Nelson (St. Croix Falls, Wis.) each had four kills. Minnesota outhit Xavier .345 to .091 in the game, limiting the Musketeers to only eight kills as a team.
The Golden Gophers jumped out to a 9-0 lead in game two paced by five kills and a solo block from Bratford. Minnesota led 16-7, but saw its lead trimmed to three at 19-16 when Xavier scored nine of the next 12 points. The Golden Gophers answered right back with a 9-1 run, paced by five kills from Erin Martin (Ames, Iowa), to go up 28-17. Minnesota moved on to the 30-20 victory to go up 2-0 in the match. Martin and Bratford each tallied six kills in the game. The Golden Gophers hit a blistering .536, while limiting Xavier to a .042 percentage.
In the third game Minnesota led 8-6 in the early going, but widened the gap with a 9-2 run to go up 17-8. The Golden Gophers continued to add on to the margin going up 29-18, before claiming the game 30-21 to win the match. Nelson paced Minnesota with four kills in the game. The Golden Gophers hit .424, while limiting Xavier to a .000 hitting percentage.
Minnesota was led by Bratford who had 13 kills and three blocks on the night. Martin also tallied 12 kills for the Golden Gophers. Nelson hit .571 (9-1-14) on the night for Minnesota, while Busse chipped in with nine kills. Lindsey Taatjes (Prinsburg, Minn.) had 44 assists and a career-high four service aces, while Paula Gentil (Forteleaza Ceara', Brazil) tallied a match-high nine digs.
The Golden Gophers had a season-high hitting percentage of .433, and held Xavier to .044 hitting percentage. Minnesota had 52 kills to 23 for the Musketeers, and tallied eight blocks to Xavier's one block on the match.
Xavier was led by Marissa Main who had six kills and nine assists.
The Golden Gophers will take on No. 3 Florida in the UF Hilton Classic championship match on Saturday, Sept. 13 at 3:30 (ET) p.m.