entThe eighth-ranked Minnesota volleyball team (23-2, 12-2 Big Ten) travels to Illinois (12-13, 3-11) on Friday, Nov. 10, at 7 p.m., and Purdue (11-15, 3-11) on Saturday, Nov. 11, at 6 p.m. Minnesota enters the week in second place in the Big Ten standings, one match behind Wisconsin. The Gophers, after completing their first-ever season sweep of Penn State, have their best-ever record after 25 matches and are on pace to set a school record for winning percentage. Nicole Branagh (Orinda, Calif./Miramonte) had 40 kills in the Penn State win, one shy of the school record for kills in a match.
Minnesota Volleyball is On The Air
Even though neither match is being broadcast on radio or television by Minnesota this week, there are still ways to get your volleyball fix. ESPN2 will have 90 minutes of the thrilling Penn State-Minnesota match on Tuesday, Nov. 7, at noon, with Jack Edwards and Heather Cox providing commentary. Illinois will cybercast the Minnesota match on its website (www.fightingillini.com), with Dave Loane calling the action Friday at 7 p.m.
Branagh Named Big Ten Player of the Week
Minnesota senior Nicole Branagh was named the Big Ten Player of the Week by the conference office. Branagh averaged 7.63 kills per game and 5.25 digs per game in leading the Golden Gophers to wins over Indiana and Penn State. She established career highs with 40 kills and 29 digs in the five-game victory over the Nittany Lions. She is the first Big Ten player since 1996 to record 40 kills in a match and the seventh player in conference history to perform that feat. It is the second time this season and the sixth time in her career Branagh has earned Big Ten Player of the Week honors.
Minnesota Now Eighth in AVCA/USA Today Poll
Minnesota is ranked eighth in the Nov. 6 edition of the AVCA/USA Today poll after being seventh in the last three polls. In the Oct. 2 poll, the Golden Gophers were listed fifth, their highest ranking in school history. Minnesota has 1135 poll points, up from last week's 1104 poll points, but down its school-record total of 1269 poll points in the Oct. 2 poll. Minnesota is one of five Big Ten teams in the USA Today poll. The others are No. 5 Wisconsin, No. 11 Penn State, No. 13 Ohio State and No. 22 Michigan State.
Wisconsin, Minnesota Remain One Match Apart
Wisconsin and Minnesota won big matches over the weekend to maintain their positions in the Big Ten standings. The Badgers have won 10 in a row and avenged their lone conference loss to Ohio State with a four- game win over the Buckeyes Sunday. The Gophers took over second place with a five-game win over Penn State. This week's key match is a Saturday match between Wisconsin and Penn State at Rec Hall in University Park, Pa. 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.
NCAA Tournament Information
The field for the 2000 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship will be announced on the evening of Sunday, Nov. 26. 64 teams will be selected for the single-elimination tournament, with the top 16 teams seeded nationally. It is likely that the top 16 teams will host first- round and second-round matches in the first weekend of the tournament. Play in the first weekend of the tournament will take place on two consecutive days between Thursday, Nov. 30, and Sunday, Dec. 3. Regional sites will be announced after the first weekend is completed, and play will take place on two consecutive days between Thursday, Dec. 7 and Sunday, Dec. 10. The national semifinals and final will take place Thursday, Dec. 14, and Saturday, Dec. 16, in Richmond, Va.
A Record-Setting Season in Progress
Minnesota is on pace to set school records for winning percentage in both overall and Big Ten matches for a season. The Gophers' current .920 winning percentage is above the overall school record of .832 set in 1974 and the NCAA-era record of .763 set in 1989. Minnesota is over the 20-win plateau for the seventh time in the last nine seasons and reached 20 wins faster than any team in school history. The Gophers finished 9-1 in the first half of the Big Ten season for the first time and are chasing the 15-5 Big Ten mark posted by last year's squad.
Best Winning Percentage - Minnesota Volleyball Overall Record Pct. Big Ten Record Pct. 1. 2000 23-2 .920 1. 2000 12-2 .857 2. 1974 31-6-1 .832 2. 1999 15-5 .750 3. 1978 58-14 .806 3. 1989 13-5 .722 4. 1989 29-9 .763 4. 1993 13-5 .722 5. 1999 27-9 .750 5. 1996/99 14-6 .700 Gophers Set Attendance Records
The fans of the Minnesota volleyball program have been coming out in record numbers to support the 2000 Golden Gophers at the Sports Pavilion. 5,116 fans came to watch the Penn State match on Saturday, the second-largest volleyball crowd in the seven-year history of the Pavilion and the fourth-largest in program history. The Gophers have been involved in matches drawing the three largest crowds in the Big Ten this season, including two at the Sports Pavilion. Minnesota has drawn 30,528 fans for 12 matches this season, the first time the Gophers have drawn over 30,000 fans for a season. Minnesota ranks fourth nationally in volleyball attendance at 2,544 fans per match, an average that exceeds the school record of 2,136 fans set in 1997.
Minnesota Sweeps Indiana, Holds Off Penn State
Minnesota opened the weekend with a 15-2, 18-16, 15-11 win over Indiana on Friday night at the Sports Pavilion. Nicole Branagh led Minnesota with 21 kills and added 13 digs, while Yvonne VanOort (Russelsheim, Germany/V.C. Wiesbaden) posted a double-double with 11 kills and 17 digs. The Gophers completed the weekend with a 17-15, 15-12, 11-15, 6- 15, 15-10, win over then-No. 11 Penn State. The victory was Minnesota's first in seven tries over Penn State at the Sports Pavilion and completed the first-ever season sweep for the Golden Gophers over the Nittany Lions. It marked the first time Penn State had been swept by a Big Ten opponent since Michigan State and Ohio State did it in 1995.
Record Book Takes a Beating
When you have a two-hour, 40-mintue epic like the Penn State-Minnesota match Saturday, you are bound to see some records fall by the wayside. Here are some of the records that fell in the match:
Kills - Nicole Branagh, Minnesota, 40 (Sports Pavilion record, one shy of Minnesota record, fourth match of 40+ kills this season nationally, seventh match of 40+ kills in Big Ten history, third match of 40+ kills in Minnesota history)
Kills - Mishka Levy, Penn State, 33 (Ties Sports Pavilion record by an opponent)
Errors - Nicole Branagh, Minnesota, 23 (Sports Pavilion record, Minnesota record)
Attempts - Nicole Branagh, Minnesota, 106 (Sports Pavilion record, Minnesota record, two shy of Big Ten single-match record, fourth match of 100+ attempts in Big Ten history)
Attempts - Mishka Levy, Penn State, 96 (Sports Pavilion record by an opponent, Minnesota record by an opponent, sixth-most in Big Ten history)
Assists - Lindsey Berg, Minnesota, 86 (Sports Pavilion record, four shy of Minnesota record)
Digs - Nicole Branagh, Minnesota, 29 (Sports Pavilion record, two shy of Minnesota record)
Block Assists - Cara Smith, Penn State, 11 (Sports Pavilion record by an opponent)
Total Blocks - Cara Smith, Penn State, 13 (Sports Pavilion record by any player)
Kills - Minnesota, 100 (Sports Pavilion record, Minnesota record)
Errors - Minnesota, 56 (Sports Pavilion record, Minnesota record)
Attempts - Minnesota, 283 (Sports Pavilion record, Minnesota record, 10th-most in Big Ten history)
Attempts - Penn State, 277 (Sports Pavilion record by an opponent, Minnesota record by an opponent)
Assists - Minnesota, 96 (Sports Pavilion record, Minnesota record)
Digs - Minnesota, 124 (Sports Pavilion record)
Block Solos - Minnesota, 7 (Ties Sports Pavilion record)
Total Blocks - Minnesota, 21 (Sports Pavilion record)
Branagh Continues Climb Up Big Ten List
Senior outside hitter Nicole Branagh moved into third place on the all- time Big Ten list Saturday against Penn State with her 40-kill performance. She has accumulated double-figure kills in 64 consecutive Big Ten matches. Branagh needs 25 kills to become the third Big Ten player in history to record 2,200 kills.
Branagh leads Minnesota with 5.42 kills per game overall and 5.76 kills per game in Big Ten play. In last week's stats, she led the Big Ten and was 16th nationally in kills per game. Branagh's .276 hitting percentage this season is better than her .264 hitting percentage in her first three years. She has 287 digs this season, giving her 1,107 for her career, good for fifth on Minnesota's career list. Branagh has never missed a match in her 125-match Minnesota career.
Hagen Leads Gophers in Two Categories
Junior middle blocker Stephanie Hagen (Minnetonka, Minn./Hopkins) continues to lead Minnesota in two statistical categories. Hagen leads Minnesota with a .389 hitting percentage overall and a .371 hitting percentage in conference play. In last week's stats, she was second in the Big Ten and was seventh nationally in hitting percentage. She continues to be the Golden Gophers' all-time leader with a .357 career hitting percentage. Hagen leads the Golden Gophers with a 1.60 blocks per game average overall and a 1.62 blocks per game average in Big Ten play. Last week, she led the Big Ten and was 10th nationally in blocks per game.
Berg Continues to Lead Big Ten in Service Aces
Junior Lindsey Berg (Honolulu, Hawaii/Punahou) was the first player ever to lead the Big Ten in service aces for two consecutive years and has a chance to do it for the third year in a row. She has 51 aces in 83 games this season, an average of 0.61 aces per game, including a season-high six aces against Michigan State on Oct. 20. Berg led the Big Ten and is 11th nationally in aces per game last week. She has 182 career service aces, good for seventh place on Minnesota's career list. Berg is among the Big Ten leaders with 14.08 assists per game. She was second in the Big Ten and 15th nationally in assists per game last week. Berg went over the 4,000-assist mark for her career Friday against Indiana.
Two Double-Doubles for VanOort
Minnesota junior Yvonne VanOort was a big part of Minnesota's two victories over Indiana and Penn State. Against the Hoosiers, VanOort led Minnesota with 17 digs and added 11 kills for her fourth double- double of the season. She followed it up with a career-high 27 digs and a season-high 14 kills against Penn State, her fifth double-double of the season. VanOort is second on the team in digs (3.39/game), fourth in kills (2.22/game), and has more blocks (71) than any other Minnesota outside hitter. Her 71 blocks is a career high for a season, as is her 0.87 blocks per game average.
Minnesota set a school record for blocks in 1999, averaging 3.22 blocks per game. The Golden Gophers have had brilliant blocking numbers in the last four weeks, averaging 4.18 blocks per game in their last eight matches. Minnesota moved its season blocking average up to 3.31 blocks per game and 3.74 blocks per game in Big Ten matches. Last week, the Golden Gophers ranked first in the Big Ten and seventh nationally in blocks per game.
The Gophers are hitting .275 for the season, 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. Minnesota was eighth nationally in team hitting percentage last week.
Illinois (12-13, 3-11) won its third Big Ten match of the season Friday, defeating Michigan State in five games at East Lansing. Illinois' two other Big Ten wins occured at Purdue and at home against Northwestern. Illinois' offense is led by senior Betsy Spicer (3.76 kills/game). Minnesota won the first matchup this season at the Sports Pavilion, sweeping Illinois, 15-3, 15-9, 15-9. Minnesota has won the last two meetings, but trails in the all-time series, 31-13-1. The Gophers are 6-14 lifetime in Champaign, but have won two of the past four meetings.
Purdue (11-15, 3-11) has lost its last three matches. The Boilermakers own Big Ten wins at home against Michigan and Northwestern, and a road win at Illinois. Purdue's offense is led by senior Julie Doud (3.98 kills/game). Minnesota won the first meeting this season at the Sports Pavilion, sweeping the Boilermakers, 15-8, 15-11, 15-8. Minnesota has won the last three meetings and has closed the gap in the career series to 26-24. The Gophers have won eight of the last nine meetings in West Lafayette.
Minnesota will close out its home regular season with matches against Michigan on Friday, Nov. 17, at 7 p.m. and Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 18, at 7:30 p.m. The Michigan State match will be broadcast live on WDGY AM-630.