The 22nd-ranked Minnesota volleyball team (7-5) defeated UW-Milwaukee (10-3) in three games by scores of 30-24, 30-24, 30-23 on Saturday, Sept. 20 to claim the 2003 Diet Coke Classic. The Golden Gophers ended the tournament with a 3-0 record, while Colorado State (9-4) finished second at 2-1, UW-Milwaukee finished third at 1-2 and Charlotte (5-9) was 0-3.
Cassie Busse (Prior Lake, Minn.) was the tournament MVP. Trisha Bratford (Reseda, Calif.) and Paula Gentil (Forteleaza Ceara', Brazil) were also named to the All-Tournament team. Colorado State had three players named to the All-Tournament team in Melissa Courtney, Becky Sarauer and Katie Jo Shirley. UW Milwaukee's Sarah Potts was the seventh member of the All-Tournament team.
Minnesota fell behind early in game one 10-8, but rattled off a 10-2 run to go up 18-12. From that point the Golden Gophers led by at least three points the rest of the way. Bratford paced Minnesota with six kills, while the Golden Gophers outhit the Panthers .176 to .054 in the first game.
UW-Milwaukee jumped out to a 6-5 lead in game two, but the Golden Gophers scored the next four points to take the lead for good at 9-6. The game remained close as Minnesota did not lead by more then three points until it went ahead 25-21. From that point the Golden Gophers scored five of the next eight points to claim game two 30-25. Bratford and Jessica Byrnes (Minnetonka, Minn.) tallied seven and five kills respectively in the game. Minnesota outhit UW- Milwaukee .438 to .290 to help pace them claim game two.
Minnesota jumped out to an early lead in game three, but the Panthers reeled them in and tied the score at 13-13. The Golden Gophers answered by scoring six straight points to go up 19-13. UW-Milwaukee trimmed the lead to 20-19 with a 6-1 run of their own. However, Minnesota scored nine of the next 11 points to get match point at 29-23. After three straight points by the Panthers, Minnesota wrapped up the match at 30-23 with a kill from Byrnes.
"I was happy with the fact that we played better as the match progressed," said Minnesota head coach Mike Hebert. "It is always good when you can go 3-0 to win these tournaments against good teams. We are looking forward to beginning Big Ten play next week."
Bratford led the way with 17 kills and two service aces on the night. Byrnes finished with nine kills, while Eri n Martin (Ames, Iowa) had eight kills. Mar ci Peniata (Plymouth, Minn.) tallied a match-high nine digs.
Minnesota outhit UW-Milwaukee .248 to .131 on the night. The Golden Gophers also had 50 kills to 33 for the Panthers, and tallied 10 service aces on the night.
In the first match of the night session, Colorado State defeated Charlotte in three games by scores of 30-22, 30-20, 30-14.
Katie Jo Shirley led the way with 10 kills and seven digs for the Rams, while Casey Bauer had 11 kills.
Charlotte was led by Abby Szanfucht who had six kills and 11 digs in the match.
Colorado State outhit Charlotte .327 to .020 on the night, and had 52 kills to the 49ers 24.
Minnesota will head on the road this week to begin defense of their 2002 Big Ten title. The Golden Gophers will start conference play on Friday, Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. at Indiana. Minnesota will also play at Purdue at 7 p.m. as part of the