fiThe ninth-ranked Minnesota volleyball team defeated Akron, 15-12, 15-9, 15-5 and claimed the championship of the Diet Coke Classic at the Sports Pavilion. The Gophers are now 11-0, completing their first-ever undefeated non-conference season.
The 11-match winning streak matches the 11-match winning streak of the 1974 team, which also started the season 11-0. It is the longest winning streak in 22 years, as the Minnesota program set a school record with a 14-match winning streak in 1978.
Lindsey Berg was named the tournament's most valuable player, earning her second such award in as many weeks. Nicole Branagh and Charnette Fair earned all-tournament honors, along with Berg.
Branagh and Stephanie Hagen shared team leadership with 16 kills. Hagen did not commit a hitting error in 27 attempts, hitting .593 for the match. Branagh topped the Gophers with 17 digs, while Hagen led Minnesota with five blocks. Berg directed the Gopher offense to a .328 hitting percentage, compared to Akron's .167 hitting percentage. Minnesota held a 60-41 advantage in kills and a 55-40 edge in digs.
Minnesota will open conference play Friday at 7 p.m. against Purdue at the Sports Pavilion.
2000 DIET COKE CLASSIC Sports Pavilion, Minneapolis Friday's Matches Akron d. Seton Hall, 3-0 (15-6, 15-9, 15-8) Minnesota d. Tennessee, 3-0 (15-5, 15-5, 15-11) Saturday's Matches Tennessee d. Akron, 3-0 (15-11, 15-7, 15-5) Minnesota d. Seton Hall, 3-1 (15-8, 15-7, 11-15, 15-4) Tennessee d. Seton Hall, 3-0 (15-1, 15-12, 15-4) Minnesota d. Akron, 3-0 (15-12, 15-9, 15-5) 2000 DIET COKE CLASSIC ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM Lindsey Berg, Minnesota (MVP) Nicole Branagh, Minnesota Charnette Fair, Minnesota Ariana Wilson, Tennessee Erica Lear, Minnesota Katie Kuzor, Akron Beth Lawlor, Seton Hall