The eighth-ranked Minnesota Volleyball team (14-2, 1-0) defeated Michigan State (8-3, 0-1) 3-0 by scores of 30-23, 30-27, 30-28 to open the Big Ten Conference season on Friday, Sept. 27. Minnesota has now won 13 of its last 14 matches, and has also been victorious in the past four Big Ten openers.
Minnesota claimed game one against Michigan State 30-23. The Golden Gophers built a 16-10 lead, but the Spartans fought back with a 7-2 run to close the gap to 19-17. Minnesota capitalized on four services aces to take the game. Erin Martin (Ames, Iowa) and Cassie Busse (Prior Lake, Minn.) paced Minnesota with four kills apiece.
The Golden Gophers took a 2-0 lead in the match by taking game two 30-27 in a game featuring 17 lead changes. Minnesota hit .349 in game two.
In game three, Michigan State jumped out to a 18-10 lead. However, Minnesota cut the score down to 27-24 and closed out the game and match with 6-1 run to win it 30-28. The Golden Gophers were paced by Trish Bratford (Reseda, Calif.) who was inserted into the game at 18-10, and had four kills and two blocks in that span.
Busse led the way for the Golden Gophers with 15 kills while boasting a .323 hitting percentage. Jessica Byrnes (Minnetonka, Minn.) chipped in with 11 kills and four blocks, and Lindsey Vander Well (Prinsburg, Minn.) added 38 assists with eight digs. Paul Gentil (Fortaleza Ceara', Brazil) recorded 20 digs, while Bratford (Reseda, Calif.) came off the bench, in game three, to add four kills with an outstanding .800 hitting percentage.
"Looking at the stats, we had 20 digs from Paula (Gentil) and we out-served Michigan State," said Minnesota Head Coach Mike Hebert. "We blocked evenly with them, and out-dug them. They are always a sound team and to outplay them like that is quite an accomplishment."
Minnesota outdug the Spartans 51 to 45, and had six service aces on the night. With the win the Golden Gophers moved to 5-2 against Top-25 opponents this season.
Michigan State was led by Sarah Villwock who had 13 kills and 12 digs. Nikki Colson had 41 assists and five digs on the match.
Minnesota will continue Big Ten Conference play on Saturday, Sept. 28, against Michigan at 7 p.m.
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