witThe No. 22 ranked Minnesota volleyball team (20-9, 13-4) defeated Michigan State (18-9, 10-8) by scores of 30-20, 30-26, 30-23 on Friday, Nov. 21 at Jenison Field House. Minnesota kept itself tied with Illinois, who also won tonight, for second place at 13-4 and moved one match back of Penn State who was idle tonight.
With the victory Minnesota recorded its 20th win for the fourth time in the last five seasons. It was also the first time since Oct. 9, 1999 that the Golden Gophers defeated Michigan State in three games on the road.
Minnesota jumped out to an early 4-3 lead, and extended it to 10-4 with a 6-1 run. Michigan State scored six of the next seven points to cut the lead to 11-10. After the Golden Gophers went up 13-11, the two teams alternated the next 10 points to put the score at 18-16. Minnesota scored the next five points to go up 23-16. The Spartans scored three of the next five points to cut the lead to 25-19. After a Michigan State attack error gave Minnesota a 26-19 lead, Cassie Busse (Prior Lake, Minn.) put down a kill to make it 27-19. Trisha Bratford (Reseda, Calif.) registered a block solo and a kill to finish of a run of four straight points by Minnesota to put them up 29-19. After Michigan State cut it to 29-20, Busse put down a kill give the Golden Gophers game one 30-20 and a 1-0 lead in the match. Minnesota outhit the Spartans .361 to .135 in the first game. The Golden Gophers attack was paced by Erin Martin (Ames, Iowa) who had a game-high five kills.
In game two Minnesota jumped out to an early 7-6 lead. The Golden Gophers scored seven of the next nine points to take a 14-8 lead. Michigan State answered with five of the next six points to cut the Minnesota lead to 15-13. The Golden Gophers scored the next two points to go up 17-13, but the Spartans answered with five of the next seven points to cut the lead to 19-18. After Minnesota scored three of the next five points to make it 22-20, Michigan State recorded the next two points to tie the score at 22. The two teams exchanged points to make it 23. Busse followed that by putting down a kill and Bratford and Jessica Byrnes (Minnetonka, Minn.) combined on a block to give the Golden Gophers a 25-23 lead.
After a Michigan State timeout Busse registered a kill and combined on a block with Byrnes to give the Golden Gophers a 27-23 lead, which prompted a second Spartan timeout. Lisa Reinhart (White Bear Lake, Minn.) followed with a service ace to complete a 5-0 run to make the score 28-23. Michigan State answered with two straight points to cut the lead to 28-25. However, Minnesota scored on a Spartan error to make it game point at 29-25. The Spartans cut it to 29-26 before Byrnes put down a kill to give Minnesota game two 30-26, along with a 2-0 lead in the match. Martin paced the Golden Gophers with eight kills in the game. Minnesota hit .400 (20-4-40) with 20 kills in game two.
Minnesota jumped out to an early 10-9 lead in game three. The Golden Gophers pushed the lead out to 15-9 with a 5-0 run. The Spartans cut the lead to three points at 20-17, but Martin and Nelson responded with back-to-back kills to make it 22-17. Busse followed with a kill and Lindsey Taatjes (Prinsburg, Minn.) delivered a service ace for Minnesota's fourth straight point to make it 24-17. Michigan State cut the lead to 26-21 with four of the next six points, but Busse delivered a kill to make it 27-21. The Spartans came right back with the next two points to cut the lead to 27-23, However, Minnesota scored the next three points to take the game 30-23 and claimed the match in three games.
Martin paced the Minnesota attack with 16 kills and hit .424 (16-2- 33) on the night. Bratford had 13 kills and hit .476 (13-3-21) for the match. She also had five blocks, four of which were block solos. Busse had a match-high 10 digs, along with nine kills and five blocks. Nelson also hit .462 (8-2-13) with eight kills in the match. Taatjes finished with 46 assists, and had three service aces.
Minnesota outhit the Spartans .402 to .209 in the match. The .402 was the Golden Gophers second-highest hitting percentage in Big Ten play this season. Minnesota also outblocked Michigan State 13.0 to 6.0 in the match.
"The key to tonight's win was how efficiently we played," said Minnesota head coach Mike Hebert. "We kept our unforced errors to a minimum. Michigan State's blockers did a good job of staying with Cassie (Busse) and forced us to the other options. Fortunately everyone else delivered for us."
Kim Schram led the way for Michigan State with 12 kills. Sarah Villwock and Jenny Rood each had eight kills for the Spartans.
Minnesota will wrap up its final Big Ten road trip of the 2003 season at Ann Arbor against Michigan on Saturday, Nov. 22 at 6 p.m.