LindseyThe first player to race, or rather limp, to hug her teammates as match point notched a huge five-game win for the Golden Gophers was senior setter Lindsey Berg.
No, it wasn?t Berg that scored the matchwinner on one of her patented service aces or a come-to-be-expected sweet set to one of hitters. Berg was watching from the sidelines, missing her first collegiate match to an injury after reinjuring her left ankle the night before in a loss at Illinois.
Instead Berg was the first to congratulate her heir apparent, freshman setter Lindsey Vander Well, who had just led the Gopher volleyball team to a much-needed victory at Indiana.
"The story of the match really was Lindsey Vander Well," said Minnesota head coach Mike Hebert. "We were playing with a lineup we hadn't used before in a must-win situation. Lindsey played like a veteran. She was in control out there."
Minnesota finally came away with a victory on the road, after dropping five straight matches on opponents? courts in Big Ten play. The Gophers used a total team effort in defeating the Hoosiers, 3-2 (27-30, 32-30, 30-22, 19-30, 15-10), improving their record to 12-8 overall and evening their conference mark to 6-6.
It was Vander Well, however, who orchestrated the Minnesota game plan and provided the leadership of a floor general the Gophers needed to succeed.
"It was tough watching from the bench," said Berg. "But I knew Lindsey could do it, I knew she would play well."
Vander Well collected 60 assists and in her first Big Ten start and second of her career. The Minnesota offense sputtered a bit in the first game, but Vander Well settled the Gophers down and instilled a confidence that was contagious among her teammates.
Perhaps some of the credit should also go to an inspired performance by the Gophers defensively, where Minnesota suddenly found a blocking game unlike one the Gophers have displayed all season. The Gophers outblocked Indiana by a dominating 21-10 margin. Sophomore middle blocker Bethany Brafford spearheaded the effort by stuffing 11 Hoosier shots. Three other Gophers, Hagen (7), Vander Well (6) and Kathy Tilson (5) tallied five or more blocks.
"I?m not really sure where that blocking game came from tonight," admitted Hebert. "We were mixing up our lineups so much, it's hard to say, but our block was definitely working for us tonight."
Indiana (6-14, 3-9) forced the match to five games with a 30-19 victory in the fourth game. The score in the fifth game was tied four times before Minnesota used a six-point spurt to take a 9-5 lead. The Hoosiers were not about to give in, battling back with four straight points to knot the score at 9-9. The score was tied once more at 10-10 before the Gophers looked on their All-American middle blocker Hagen in crunch time. Hagen responded slamming kill on the slide off another perfect set from Vander Well to give the Gophers a lead they would not relinquish. Tilson followed with a kill and a Kelli Wicks service ace was sandwiched between two Indiana hitting errors, the last of which delivered the match's winning point to the Gophers.
Hagen and Tilson led the Gophers with 17 kills apiece. Tilson added 13 digs for a double-double. Brafford collected her first career kill/block double-double, adding 13 kills to her 11 blocks in the match. Amanda Cipperly contributed a career-high 13 digs with nine kills.
Minnesota begins a stretch of six straight home matches next Friday, Nov. 2, when the Gophers play host to Michigan.