Sept.The 22nd-ranked Minnesota volleyball team (4-5) upended No. 6 Northern Iowa (7-2) in four games by scores of 25-30, 30-24, 30-28, 30-27 at the Mayo Civic Center at Rochester, Minn. on Wednesday, Sept. 17. The win over No. 6 Northern Iowa was the highest ranked opponent the Golden Gophers have defeated since Dec. 5, 1993 when they knocked off No. 5 UC Santa Barbara.
The win also gives Minnesota its fourth win in its last five matches.
In game one Minnesota jumped out to a 17-13 lead. The Golden Gophers continued to hold the lead until Northern Iowa scored 10 of the next 15 points to jump ahead 23-22. Minnesota fought right back to jump ahead 24-23 on kills from Meredith Nelson (St. Croix Falls, Minn.) and Cassie Busse (Prior Lake, Minn.). After the Panthers tied the score at 24, Trisha Bratford (Reseda, Calif.) delivered a kill to move Minnesota back ahead 25-24. Northern Iowa snatched that momentum away scoring the last six points to win game one 30-25. Bratford paced Minnesota with five kills in the game. The Golden Gophers committed 12 errors in the game and were outhit by the Panthers .184 to .137.
Northern Iowa took control in the early part of game two storming out to a 15-7 lead. However, the Golden Gophers responded, wrestling the momentum in the match away from the Panthers with a 16-4 run that put them ahead 23-19. From that point, Minnesota never let Northern Iowa any closer then three points in route to winning game two 30-24 to even the match at 1-1. Overall, the run was a 21-9 turnaround that catapulted Minnesota to the game two victory. Erin Martin (Ames, Iowa) paced the Golden Gophers in the game with six kills. Minnesota also registered five solo blocks in the game, two each by Bratford and Busse. The Golden Gophers limited the Panthers to an .071 hitting percentage and hit .163 in the game.
Minnesota jumped out to a quick 13-10 lead in game three. However, Northern Iowa answered with a quick 6-0 run to take a 16-13 lead. The Panthers went up 20-16, before the Golden Gophers answered with a 6-1 run of their own to go up 22-21. Northern Iowa regained the lead at 25-24. The Panthers continued to hold on at 27-26 after a kill by senior middle blocker Molly O'Brien. However, Minnesota quickly turned the tables as Martin tallied a kill to tie it at 27, and Busse ripped off consecutive service aces to put the Golden Gophers up 29- 27. Northern Iowa cut the lead to 29-28, but Martin put away the game with a kill to give Minnesota 30-28 game three victory. Martin, Bratford and Busse all recorded five kills each in the game, as the Golden Gopher pulled out a game in which they were narrowly outhit by the Panthers .239 to .222.
The Golden Gophers fell behind early in game four 15-11. Minnesota trimmed the lead to 17-16, but Northern Iowa pulled away again with a 6-0 run to go up 23-16. The Golden Gophers displayed resiliency once again as they scored nine of the next 11 points to tie the score at 25. Minnesota stretched the run out to a 11-2 run on Bratford's kill to go up 27-25. After Northern Iowa cut the score to 27-26, Bratford and Busse answered with kills to give Minnesota match point at 29-26. Northern Iowa fought it off to make it 29-27, but Busse capped off the match with final kill to Minnesota the victory.
Minnesota rallied from seven points or more in two different games on their way to claiming the 2003 installment of the Border Battle against Northern Iowa.
Martin led the attack with 20 kills on the night. Busse had 18 kills, six digs, six blocks and three service aces for the Golden Gophers. Busse also became the 14th player in Minnesota history to record 1,000 kills in a career in third game of the match. She currently sits at 14th place with 1,009 career kills. Trisha Bratford (Reseda, Calif.) set a record for a rally-scoring match with five block solos. Bratford also had 17 kills and seven digs.
Paula Gentil (Forteleaza Ceara', Brazil) tallied 27 digs, while Lindsey Taatjes (Prinsburg, Minn.) had 57 assists and 15 digs. Jessica Byrnes (Minnetonka, Minn.) also added 10 kills and three blocks. It marked the second time this season, Minnesota has had four players with double-figure kills. The Golden Gophers are 2-0 this season when that occurs and 11-0 over the course of the past two years when four players record double-figure kills.
"This is always a hard-fought match when these two programs play," said Minnesota Head Coach Mike Hebert. "We enjoy playing this match in the great volleyball community of Rochester. I think our team did a good job tonight of trusting each other. This is a great win over what I consider one of the top program's in the nation in Northern Iowa."
Northern Iowa outhit Minnesota by single point .182 to .181. The Golden Gophers were also outblocked 18.5 to 15.0, but had 75 kills to the Panthers 56 and outdug Northern Iowa 79 to 65.
The Panthers were led by O'Brien who had 17 kills and 15 digs. Shari Vermeer and Rachael Tink also had 11 and 10 kills respectively.
The Golden Gophers will return home after that to host the Diet Coke Classic on Friday, Sept. 19 and Saturday, Sept. 20. Minnesota plays Colorado State on Friday, Sept. 19 at 7:30 p.m., Charlotte on Saturday, Sept. 20 at 12:30 p.m. and UW-Milwaukee on Sept. 20 at 7:30 p.m.