( The top-ranked Minnesota volleyball team (11-1) won its fourth match in four days, as it defeated Cincinnati (5-6) in three games by scores of 30-24, 30-14, 30-19 on Monday, Sept. 20 at the Sports Pavilion in its final non-conference match of the regular season. Minnesota is now 4-0 in four matches as the No. 1 team in the nation.
With the win, the Golden Gophers match their longest winning streak of the 2003 season with 10 straight victories. Minnesota has won 10 straight matches or more on seven occasions during Mike Hebert's eight-plus seasons with the program.
Coming off North Carolina Tournament MVP honors, Erin Martin (Ames, Iowa) picked up right where she left off this weekend by hitting .414 (14-2-29) and tallying a match-high 14 kills. Martin also had four blocks in the match. Trisha Bratford (Reseda, Calif.) also had double-figure kills with 10 for the match. Bratford added two solo blocks as well.
Paula Gentil (Forteleaza Ceara', Brazil) tied a career-high with four service aces, all of which came in game two. Gentil also had a match-high 15 digs for Minnesota. Lindsey Taatjes (Prinsburg, Minn.) also finished with four kills, 23 assists, nine digs and three blocks.
"Both teams were playing their fourth match in four days," said Hebert. "So I expected fatigue to possibly play a factor. I think we were a little sluggish in the first game, but we picked it up and played better in game's two and three. We set a goal to have a lot of success in our pre-conference schedule to set things up down the line for having a high seed in the NCAA Tournament. Now that we have accomplished that goal, it is time to set our sights on trying to succeed in an incredibly tough and competitive Big Ten Conference."
The first game started out as tightly contested one with nine ties leading to tie score at 10. Minnesota scored four straight points to move ahead 14-10. The Golden Gophers maintained at least a three-point edge until the score was 19-16. At that point, Minnesota scored eight of the next 11 points to extend the lead out to 27-19. Cincinnati scored four straight points to cut the lead to 27- 23, but the Golden Gophers scored three of the next four points to close out the game at 30-24.
Martin paced Minnesota with five kills in the first game. Minnesota outblocked the Bearcats, and had 17 kills to 13 for Cincinnati.
Minnesota stormed out to a 10-0 lead in game two. With the score at 4-0, Gentil delivered three consecutive aces to push the lead out to 7-0. The Golden Gophers expanded upon their 10-point lead by pushing it out to as much as 24-8. Minnesota matched its highest lead of 16 two more times in the game, and never led by less then 13 the rest of the way as it moved to a 30-14 game-two victory.
The Golden Gophers outhit the Bearcats .357 to -.026 in game two. Minnesota had 14 kills in the game, while limiting Cincinnati to just seven. The Golden Gophers also had 19 digs to just nine for the Bearcats. Martin paced Minnesota with six kills. Gentil had a season-high four service aces in the game, and also tallied seven digs.
In game three the two team were tied at seven, before Minnesota went on a 13-3 run to take a 20-10 lead. The Golden Gophers built their lead to 13 points at 25-12, on their way to winning game three 30-19.
Bratford led the way with six kills in the game for Minnesota. The Golden Gophers limited the Bearcats to a -.111 hitting percentage, while hitting .219 for the game. Minnesota had 15 kills to seven for Cincinnati in the game.
For the match, Minnesota outhit the Bearcats.271 to .046, and had 42 kills to 31 for the Bearcats. The Golden Gophers also had seven service aces to one for Cincinnati. Minnesota had 11.0 blocks in the match, while the Bearcats finished with 3.0.
With her 14 kills Martin moved past Jill Halsted (1979-82) for eighth on the Minnesota all-time kills list with 1,363 for her career.
Minnesota will open the Big Ten season on Friday, Sept. 24 at 7 p.m. against Michigan State. The Golden Gophers will also play Michigan on Saturday, Sept. 25 at 7 p.m.