OctThe Minnesota volleyball team (15-0, 4-0 Big Ten) returns to the Sports Pavilion to begin a four-match homestand. The fifth-ranked Golden Gophers host 10th- ranked Wisconsin (13-2, 3-1) on Friday, Oct. 6, at 7 p.m., and Northwestern (4-10, 1-3) on Saturday, Oct. 7, at 7 p.m. Minnesota has its longest winning streak in school history, the longest current winning streak in the country and its highest national ranking in school history. The Gophers can set a new record for consecutive wins at the Sports Pavilion with two wins this weekend. Minnesota is tied with Ohio State for first place in the Big Ten standings.
Minnesota Volleyball is On The Air
The Wisconsin match will be broadcast live on radio and television. The radio broadcast will begin at 6:45 p.m. on WDGY AM 630, with Tom Witschen and former Gopher Linda Shudlick on the call. The television broadcast starts at 7 p.m. on Midwest Sports Channel, with Anthony LaPanta and Sarah Pearman handling the announcing chores. There is no broadcast of Saturday night's match with Northwestern.
Records, Records, and More Records
Minnesota is currently enjoying its longest winning streak in volleyball history. The 15-match winning stretch snaps the old record of 14 consecutive wins from Oct. 27 to Nov. 10, 1978. The streak is the longest current winning streak in NCAA Division I volleyball. Minnesota is one of five teams that has yet to taste defeat in the 2000 season. The other four teams are Hawaii, Nebraska, Ohio State and Southern California.
In the 15-match run, Minnesota has defeated two nationally ranked teams (Pacific, Penn State) and another that was nationally ranked in the preseason (Northern Iowa). The Gophers are 45-3 in games during the 2000 season, losing the third game at Georgia Tech, the third game against Seton Hall and the first game at Penn State. 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 fifth in the Oct. 2 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 1269 poll points. Minnesota is the highest ranked of six Big Ten teams in the USA Today poll. In the Volleyball Monthly weekly ranking, the Gophers are also ranked fifth in the country.
Only Two Undefeated Teams Left in Big Ten standings Ohio State, with wins at Wisconsin and Northwestern, joins Minnesota at the top of the conference standings. The Buckeyes will host Purdue and Illinois this weekend. Iowa, Michigan State, and Wisconsin are one match behind Minnesota and Ohio State. 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 Improves to 15-0 With Road Wins
The Golden Gophers snapped Penn State's 87-match home winning streak by defeating the Nittany Lions in four games, 13-15, 15-12, 15-12, 15-11, on Friday at Rec Hall. Minnesota blew a 7-0 lead in the first game, but rallied from five-point deficits in the other three games to hand Penn State its first home loss since Nov. 24, 1995. The Gophers continued the successful road trip by sweeping Indiana, 15-9, 15-12, 15-8, at University Gym in Bloomington, Ind. Minnesota had lost its previous two matches at Indiana, but took care of the Hoosiers for its 12th sweep of the season.
Branagh Has Big Weekend
Senior outside hitter Nicole Branagh (Orinda, Calif./ Miramonte) had two of her biggest nights this season as far as kills were concerned. She had a season-high 28 kills against Penn State and chipped in 20 more against Purdue. Branagh leads the Big Ten with 5.23 kills per game overall and 6.08 kills per game in Big Ten play. For her career, Branagh has 1,966 kills and is in sixth place on the all-time Big Ten list. She is 34 shy of 2,000 kills and is 40 shy of fifth place.
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. St.) 1994-97 2,006 6.Nicole Branagh (Minnesota) 1997-2000 1,966 Branagh's .315 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 954 for her career, good for 10th on Minnesota's career list. Branagh has never missed a match in her 115-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 31 aces in 46 games this season, an average of 0.67 aces per game, including a season-high five aces against Illinois on Sept. 23. Berg's career average entering the season was 0.58 service aces per game. She has 162 career service aces, good for seventh place on Minnesota's career list.
VanOort Can Do It All For Minnesota
Junior Yvonne VanOort (Russelsheim, Germany/V.C. Wiesbaden) has return from giving birth to a child June 5 to play the best volleyball of her career at Minnesota. She leads the Gophers in digs with 3.31 digs per game overall and 3.92 digs per game in Big Ten play. VanOort has blocked 35 balls this season for a 0.78 blocks per game average, tops among Minnesota's outside hitters. In her first two seasons, she averaged 0.43 blocks per game. According to Minnesota coach Mike Hebert, VanOort continues to be one of Minnesota's best passers in the back row.
Aschenbrenner Claims Starting Spot
Senior Lisa Aschenbrenner (Algonquin, Ill./Huntley) earned her way into Minnesota's starting lineup at the opposite position with impressive performances at Penn State and Indiana. She dug 29 balls in the two matches, good for an average of 4.14 digs per game. Aschenbrenner had a season-high eight kills and five blocks in the win against the Hoosiers.
Minnesota's offense continues to lead the Big Ten in hitting percentage. The Gophers are hitting .312 for the season, well ahead of last year's average and the school record for hitting percentage. 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.
Wisconsin (13-2, 3-1) lost its first Big Ten match of the season at home to Ohio State in five games Friday. The 10th-ranked Badgers had defeated Penn State, Indiana and Northwestern at home before the Buckeye match. The Minnesota match is Wisconsin's first Big Ten road match of the season. Junior Sherisa Livingston set a Wisconsin record with 37 kills in the Ohio State match. The Gophers and Badgers split the 1999 series, with each team winning at home.
Northwestern (4-10, 1-3) shocked Penn State in five games in Evanston for its lone Big Ten win of the season. The Wildcats have dropped matches to Indiana, Wisconsin and Ohio State. Northwestern will play at Iowa on Friday before the match at Minnesota. The Golden Gophers have won the last 13 meetings over the Wildcats, including the last seven matches in 3-0 sweeps.
Up Next for the Gophers
Minnesota concludes its four-match homestand with two matches next week. The Gophers will host Iowa on Wednesday, Oct. 11, at 7 p.m. and Ohio State on Friday, Oct. 13, at 7 p.m. Both matches will be broadcast live on Midwest Sports Channel, and the Ohio State match will be broadcast on WDGY AM 630.