thThe No. 17 Minnesota volleyball team was defeated by Michigan, 3-1 (30-26, 30-27, 26-30, 30-27) in Big Ten action in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Saturday. The Golden Gophers fall to 8-4 overall and 2-2 in the Big Ten.
Minnesota has not suffered consecutive losses in Big Ten play on the road in three seasons. The 2001 season, however, has proven to be one of home court domination. Entering Saturday's matches, the home teams in the Big Ten had compiled a 13-3 record. Two of those road wins by a visiting teams were captured by the Gophers in the conference's opening week of play.
Michigan pulled away to win game one, 30-26, after outscoring Minnesota by a 6-2 margin in the last eight points. The game featured 17 ties and solid offensive performances by both teams as the Wolverines hit for a .500 hitting percentage to .306 for the Gophers.
In the new scoring system this season, a close game can be won or lost from the service line. The Gophers found this out firsthand as four service errors at inopportune times led to Minnesota dropping the second game by a 30-27. Michigan continued an effective attack, hitting for a .333 percentage as a team, while the Gophers cooled to .211.
The Gophers stopped their games lost streak at five in winning the third game, 30-26. With the score tied at 18-18, the Gopher seniors Lindsey Berg and Stephanie Hagen made the plays to score the next four points and give Minnesota the cushion it needed. Berg ended a rally with a kill to a wide-open Wolverine back row to start the rally. Hagen followed with a kill and then assisted on two blocks. Another senior, Kathy Tilson scored three of the Gophers? last four of the game.
Minnesota fell behind early in the fourth game but managed to claw its way back in and tie the game at 16. The Wolverines answered with four straight points to take a 20-16 lead. The Gophers mounted one last comeback attempt and closed to within 27-26 on a Michigan hitting error. The next point was indicative of the Gophers? play over the weekend as Carrie Noble and Hagen collided on a set attempt, with the ball handling error giving Michigan a two-point cushion. A Hagen kill closed the score to 29-27, but Michigan's Erin Moore hit a kill off the Gopher block to capture match point.
The stat sheet tells the story of a close match but two statistics in Michigan's favor were the deciding factors. Minnesota committed 16 service errors to just six for the Wolverines. Michigan's defense also made a difference collecting a 50-33 advantage in digs.
Four Gophers finished in double figure kills, led by Erin Martin with a career-high 14 kills. Tilson, Hagen and Cassie Busse added 11. Berg was credited with 49 assists. As a team, Minnesota hit .243.
Minnesota's next action is Friday, Oct. 5 when the Gophers host Indiana at 7 p.m. in the Sports Pavilion. The match will be the first home match for the Gophers in a full month.