eighth-ranNicole Branagh earned the 2,000th kill of her career as Minnesota swept Iowa, 15-8, 15-10, 15-6, Wednesday night at the Sports Pavilion. The eighth-ranked Golden Gophers improve to 17-1, 6-1 in the Big Ten, while Iowa drops to 8-7, 4-3 in the conference.
Branagh reached the milestone late in the second game, pounded a clean shot from the left side. She ended the night with 17 kills and 2,008 kills in her career. Branagh moved into fifth place on the Big Ten's all-time kill list. Minnesota is the first school in NCAA history with three players over 2,000 career kills. Branagh also established a career high with 21 digs, and is seven shy of 1,000 digs for her career.
"It's a great milestone," said Minnesota head coach Mike Hebert. "A lot of hard work and durability went into those kills. It was a priviledge to watch such a moment from the bench."
"I am happy I reached 2,000 kills tonight," said Branagh. "A lot of our players can take pride in this. It took a lot of sets and a lot of passes for me to reach 2,000 kills."
Stephanie Hagen matched Branagh with 17 kills, and led Minnesota with a .517 hitting percentage. Charnette Fair earned the first double-double of her Gopher career, smashing 12 kills and recording 11 blocks, the latter matching a career-high. She is the first Gopher this season to record double-figure blocks in a match. Lisa Aschenbrenner set a career high with eight blocks.
Minnesota had a commanding lead in hitting percentage, compiling a .304 mark to Iowa's .110 percentage. The Gophers had a 60-41 advantage in kills and a 17-9.5 edge in blocks.
Minnesota moves to within one-half match of first-place Ohio State in the Big Ten standings. The Golden Gophers will host the 11th-ranked Buckeyes on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Sports Pavilion.