firCassie Busse (Prior Lake, Minn.) recorded a career-high 27 kills, as Minnesota (14-7, 7-2) moved into a three-way tie for first place with a four-game victory over Michigan (13-7, 5-4) by scores of 30-26, 21- 30, 30-26, 31-29 on Friday, Oct. 24 at the Sports Pavilion.
The win was the Golden Gophers seventh straight victory in Big Ten play, matching its second-longest conference winning streak accomplished in 1985, 1999 and 2000. Minnesota's longest Big Ten winning streak was 11 in 2002.
Sophomore libero Paula Gentil (Forteleaza Ceara', Brazil) also had a school record 31 digs in the match, tying Chris Schaefer who had the same amount in five games against Wisconsin on Nov. 17, 1989.
In game one Minnesota jumped out to a 19-15 lead, but Michigan scored five of the next six points to tie the score at 20. After a pair of kills from Trisha Bratford (Reseda, Calif.) and Busse, the Golden Gophers led 24-20. The Wolverines answered with three straight points to cut the lead to 24-23. Busse registered a kill to move it to 25- 23, but Michigan came right back to trim the lead to 25-24. After cutting the lead to 26-25, Erin Martin (Ames, Iowa) and Jessica Byrnes (Minnetonka, Minn.) put together back-to-back kills to put Minnesota up 28-25. The Golden Gophers closed out the game with two of the last three points to claim it 30-26. Minnesota outhit Michigan .327 to .217. Busse and Martin led the way with six and five kills respectively.
Michigan jumped out to a 15-10 lead in game two. The Wolverines held the lead at 21-15, and stretched it out further with a 7-1 run to go up 28-16. Michigan had game point at 29-18, and closed it out 30-21, after Minnesota fought off four game points. The Wolverines outhit the Golden Gophers .340 to .155 in game two.
In game three Busse took control with 10 of the 19 Golden Gophers kills to lead Minnesota to 30-26 third-game victory. With the score tied at 18, Minnesota went on a 7-1 run to move out to a 26-19 lead. Busse tallied three kills in that span. Michigan closed the lead to 28-24, but Minnesota finished off the game three 30-26.
Minnesota fell behind 3-1 in game four, but rattled off seven straight points to go up 8-3. The Golden Gophers extended the lead to 18-10 midway through the game. However, Michigan scored nine of the next 12 points to cut the lead to 21-19. With the score at 24-22, Busse sandwiched two kills around a Michigan hitting error to put the Golden Gophers up 27-22. Minnesota had match point at 29-25, but Michigan fought off four straight points to tie it at 29. Bratford followed that run up with a kill to put Minnesota up 30-29, and Martin delivered the kill to give the Golden Gophers a 31-29 game- four victory.
"Michigan played extremely hard tonight," said Mike Hebert. "They made sure nothing came easy for us. However our team, much like last year, did a good job of winning the tough points tonight, except in game two. Cassie (Busse) continued her recent trend of stepping up for us in the big points. That is what senior leaders do in big spots, and she has filled that role very well recently."
Martin tallied 19 kills and eight digs on the night. Bratford had a second straight double-double with 17 kills and 10 digs in the match. Freshman middle blocker Meredith Nelson (St. Croix, Wis.) also had double-figure kills with 10. Lindsey Taatjes (Prinsburg, Minn.) had 59 assists, 16 digs, four kills and three blocks on the night. Marci Peniata (Plymouth, Minn.) also chipped in with 10 digs.
Minnesota narrowly outhit Michigan .239 to .235. The Golden Gophers, who were outblocked 12.0 to 9.0, did have 82 kills to 72 for the Wolverines.
Erin Moore led the Michigan attack with 18 kills and 17 digs, while Jennifer Gandolph had 25 digs and 13 kills on the night. The Wolverines placed five players in double-figure kills on the night.
Minnesota will play No. 22 Michigan State at home on Saturday, Oct. 25 at 7 p.m.