6The Minnesota volleyball team (13-0, 2-0) ventures to the road in the Big Ten for the first time this season. The sixth-ranked Golden Gophers travel to Penn State (11-3, 0-2) on Friday, Sept. 29, at 6:30 p.m., and Indiana (10-2, 1-1) on Saturday, Sept. 30, at 7 p.m. Minnesota has a chance to set a school record for consecutive victories this weekend, but they will have to do it in two buildings in which they lost matches in 1999. The Gophers have never won at Penn State in 11 chances and the Nittany Lions have won an NCAA-record 87 consecutive matches at home.
Minnesota Volleyball is On The Air
Both of this weekend's matches will be aired on radio in the Twin Cities on WDGY AM-630. The Penn State match will be aired live, while the Indiana match will air on tape, starting at approximately 9 p.m. Veteran Twin Cities sportscaster Tom Witschen will call the play-by- play, while Minnesota associate media relations director Bruce Wolfe will handle the color commentary. The matches are the first of 10 regular season matches that will air on WDGY. The Gophers will make their Twin Cities television debut Oct. 6 against Wisconsin at 7 p.m. on Midwest Sports Channel.
"The Streak" Just Continues...
Minnesota is currently enjoying its longest winning streak in the NCAA era of volleyball. This is the second time in the history of Golden Gopher volleyball that Minnesota has won 13 matches in a row. The Gophers set the school record with 14 consecutive wins from Oct. 27 to Nov. 10, 1978, before losing a match to Minnesota- Duluth. In the 1978 streak, some of the matches were best-out-of-three matches, so this is the first-ever streak of 13 best-out-of-five matches in school history.
In the streak, Minnesota has defeated one nationally ranked team (Pacific) and another that was nationally ranked in the preseason (Northern Iowa). The Gophers are 39-2 in games during the 2000 season, losing the third game at Georgia Tech and the third game against Seton Hall. Minnesota is a perfect 13-0 in both the first and second games. Minnesota has won its last six matches in the Sports Pavilion, one shy of the school record for a home winning streak.
Minnesota Earns Highest-Ever National Ranking
Minnesota is ranked sixth in the Sept. 25 edition of the AVCA/USA Today poll, its highest ranking in school history. The Golden Gophers have increased their point total in every poll, and currently have 1194 poll points. Minnesota, finished the 1999 season in the 16th position in the USA Today poll. Minnesota is the highest ranked of six Big Ten teams in the USA Today poll.
Home Sweet Home for Big Ten Teams
The 2000 Big Ten volleyball season began last weekend with 10 of the 11 matches won by the home team. Minnesota, Iowa, Ohio State and Wisconsin share the conference lead at 2-0, with all four schools winning two matches at home. Indiana was the only victorious road team, winning at Northwestern last Friday. Penn State is 0-2 in the Big Ten for the first time since joining the conference in 1991. Since the Big Ten went to the current double round-robin format in 1985, the conference champion has never had more than two losses in the conference season.
Minnesota Sweeps Purdue and Illinois to move to 13-0
Minnesota opened Big Ten play with sweeps at home against Purdue and Illinois. The Gophers had three players with 11 or more kills and a 14-4 blocking advantage in defeating the Boilermakers, 15-8, 15- 11, 15-8, on Friday. Minnesota set a Sports Pavilion record by hitting .474 as a team in a 15-3, 15-9, 15-9 victory over Illinois on Saturday. For the weekend, the Gophers had a 107-79 edge in kills, a .354-.129 advantage in hitting percentage, and a 24.5-8 lead in blocks.
Branagh Keeps Movin' On Up
Senior outside hitter Nicole Branagh (Orinda, Calif./ Miramonte) continued her climb up the Big Ten all-time kill leader chart last week. She moved past former Gopher Chris Schaefer during the Purdue match and currently stands third among Gophers and sixth among all-time Big Ten players with 1,918 career kills. Branagh is likely to pass 2,000 kills during Minnesota's four-match homestand in early October.
Big Ten Conference All-Time Kill Leaders 1.Katrien DeDecker (Minnesota) 1993-96 2,300 2.Jenna Wrobel (Michigan State) 1995-98 2,292 3.Andrea Gonzalez (Minnesota) 1985-88 2,140 4.Debbie McDonald (Purdue) 1986-89 2,108 5.Veronica Morales (Mich. State)1994-97 2,006 6.Nicole Branagh (Minnesota) 1997-2000 1,918 Branagh's .351 hitting percentage this season is significantly better than her .264 hitting percentage in her first three years. She has 89 digs this season, giving her 928 for her career, which is six shy of Minnesota's career top ten list. Branagh has never missed a match in her 113-match Minnesota career.
Berg's Serve Continues to Baffle Opposition
Junior Lindsey Berg (Honolulu, Hawaii/Punahou) was the first player ever to lead the Big Ten in service aces for two consecutive years and is on her way to do it for the third year in a row. She has 29 aces in 39 games this season, an average of 0.74 aces per game, including a season-high five aces against Illinois last Saturday. Berg's career average entering the season was 0.58 service aces per game. She has 160 career service aces, good for seventh place on Minnesota's career list.
Hagen Hosts Block Party
Junior Stephanie Hagen (Minnetonka, Minn./Hopkins) extended her lead among Big Ten blockers this weekend, rejecting 16 attacks for a 2.67 blocks per game average. She leads the Big Ten with a 1.75 blocks per game average. Hagen leads the Big Ten with a .441 hitting percentage, and continues to be the Golden Gophers' all- time leader with a .356 career hitting percentage. She is second on the team with 133 kills, including seven matches of 10 or more kills. She has 63 digs this season, compared to 87 for her first two years at Minnesota.
It is a Fair Way to Go
Senior Charnette Fair (Huntington Beach, Calif./ Montclair) posted double-figure kill efforts in both matches last weekend, including a season-high 14 kills against Illinois. She hit .537 against Purdue and Illinois and she has been over .400 in five of her last six matches. Fair is second in the Big Ten with a .434 hitting percentage, third with a 0.83 blocks per game average and third with 3.17 kills per game.
Minnesota's offense continues to lead the Big Ten in hitting percentage. The Gophers hit .354 in the two matches against Purdue and Illinois to raise their season hitting percentage to .334. Minnesota hit .261 as a team in 1999, the second-best percentage in school history. The Golden Gopher record for a season is .270, set by the 1996 team.
Penn State (11-3, 0-2) is 0-2 in the Big Ten for the first time in school history, dropping a three-game match at Wisconsin and a five-game decision at Northwestern. The Nittany Lions had won 49 straight Big Ten matches before the two losses, and still own a current 87-match winning streak at Rec Hall, which is an NCAA record. Minnesota has lost its last 13 matches to Penn State and is 0-11 lifetime at Rec Hall.
Indiana (10-2, 1-1) split its first two Big Ten matches, winning at Northwestern in four games and losing at Wisconsin in three games. The Hoosiers' only other loss this season was a three-game home loss to Loyola Marymount. Indiana and Minnesota split their season series in 1999, with each team winning on its home floor. The Hoosiers have defeated the Gophers in the last two matches in Bloomington.
Up Next for the Gophers
Minnesota returns to the Sports Pavilion for its next four matches. The Gophers will host Wisconsin on Friday, Oct. 6, at 7 p.m. and Northwestern on Saturday, Oct. 7, at 7 p.m. The Wisconsin match will be broadcast live on Midwest Sports Channel and WDGY.