improThe ninth-ranked Minnesota volleyball team used a balanced attack to defeat Northern Iowa, 15-10, 15-9, 15-6, in the annual "Border Battle" match at Century High School in Rochester. The Gophers improve their record to 8-0, while the Panthers dropped to 5-4.
Stephanie Hagen led Minnesota with 14 kills and a .455 hitting percentage, while Nicole Branagh added 13 kills and Charnette Fair had 11 kills for Minnesota. Kim McCaffery was the only Northern Iowa player to record double-figure kills, with 11. Minnesota owned a .355-.119 advantage in hitting percentage, and committed just 11 hitting errors in 110 attempts.
In the first game, Northern Iowa erased a 2-0 Minnesota start with five consecutive points and took a 5-2 lead. The Gophers took a brief 8-7 lead, but the Panthers scored the next three points to retake the advantage at 10-8. Lisa Axel served six consecutive points to give Minnesota a 14-10 lead, and after two sideouts, Yvonne VanOort won a joust at the net to give the Gophers a 15-10 victory.
Minnesota erased a 2-0 Northern Iowa lead with four consecutive points, the last three on Axel's serve, to take a 4-2 lead. The Gophers did not trail for the remainder of the game. Minnesota hit .364 as a team in the second game, committing just two hitting errors in 44 attempts. The Gopher defense held Northern Iowa to a .159 hitting percentage.
Northern Iowa scored the first four points of the third game before Minnesota earned its first sideout. The Gophers rolled off seven straight points, five on VanOort's serve, to give Minnesota a 7-4 advantage. Minnesota used a six-point run on Lisa Aschenbrenner's serve to take a 13-5 lead, and was not threatened for the remainder of the match.
The Gophers return to the Sports Pavilion for their next five matches and nine of their next 11 matches. Minnesota will host Tennessee in the first round of the Diet Coke Classic on Friday at 8 p.m.
2000 DIET COKE CLASSIC Sports Pavilion, Minneapolis Friday's Matches Seton Hall (4-2) vs. Akron (4-4), 6 p.m. Tennessee (6-1) vs. Minnesota (8-0), 8 p.m. Saturday's Matches Tennessee vs. Akron, 11 a.m. Minnesota vs. Seton Hall, 1 p.m. Tennessee vs. Seton Hall, 6 p.m. Akron vs. Minnesota, 8 p.m.