ThThe seventh-ranked Minnesota volleyball team received 21 kills from Nicole Branagh and defeated Indiana, 15-2, 18-16, 15-11, at the Sports Pavilion. The Golden Gophers (22-2, 11-2 Big Ten) remain in a tie for second place with Ohio State, one match behind first-place Wisconsin. The Hoosiers fall to 13-10, 4-9 in the conference.
The Gophers held the advantage in most statistical categories, including a 60-52 advantage in kills, a 12-7 edge in blocks and a .264-.133 difference in hitting percentage. Yvonne VanOort led Minnesota defensively with 17 digs and completed her fourth double-double of the season with 11 kills. Branagh also had a double-double with 13 digs to go along with her kills. Stephanie Hagen chipped in with nine kills and seven blocks. Lindsey Berg led Minnesota with 49 assists and went over the 4,000-assist plateau for her career.
"It was a good win at home over a Big Ten team," said Minnesota head coach Mike Hebert. "We had been starting slow in some matches, so it was good to get a quick start tonight. We were able to use some different players in different positions tonight, which will help later in the season."
Minnesota needed just 13 minutes to finish the first game, breezing to a 15-2 decision. The Gophers had a 19-7 advantage in kills, led by Branagh's eight kills. The Hoosiers had four chances to serve for the second game, but Minnesota held on for an 18-16 win. The Gophers used eight more kills from Branagh and seven team blocks to hold off Indiana. In the third game, Minnesota took its first lead at 9-8 and scored 11 of the match's final 15 points to close out the Hoosiers.
Minnesota will host 11th-ranked Penn State on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Sports Pavilion. The Nittany Lions survived a five-game match at Iowa, defeating the Hawkeyes, 15-13, 15-17, 12-15, 15-8, 16-14.
BIG TEN STANDINGS Wisconsin 12-1 22-2 Minnesota 11-2 22-2 Ohio State 11-2 21-2 Penn State 10-3 21-4 Iowa 7-6 11-10 Michigan State 6-7 13-9 Michigan 4-9 14-10 Indiana 4-9 13-10 Illinois 3-10 12-12 Purdue 3-10 11-14 Northwestern 1-13 4-20 Friday's Matches Minnesota d. Indiana, 3-0 (15-2, 18-16, 15-11) Illinois d. Michigan State, 3-2 (15-6, 4-15, 15-12, 1-15, 15-12) Michigan d. Purdue, 3-0 (15-5, 15-5, 15-9) Ohio State d. Northwestern, 3-0 (15-1, 15-9, 15-13) Penn State d.Iowa, 3-2 (15-13, 15-17, 12-15, 15-8, 16-14) Saturday's Matches Penn State at Minnesota, 7 Illinois at Michigan, 6 Purdue at Michigan State, 6 Indiana at Iowa, 7 Sunday's Match Wisconsin at Ohio State, 1