qualiThe ninth-ranked Minnesota volleyball team (28-3) opens the 2000 NCAA Volleyball Tournament with a first-round match against Robert Morris (21-15) at the Sports Pavilion. The Golden Gophers have qualified for their sixth NCAA Volleyball Tournament and their fourth in the last five seasons. The Gophers have their best-ever record after 31 matches and will set a school record for winning percentage. Minnesota set a school record with 17 Big Ten victories and missed out on its first- ever Big Ten championship by one point. The Golden Gophers have never lost their first match of the NCAA Volleyball Tournament and have been part of the final 16 teams on three occasions. Nicole Branagh (Orinda, Calif./Miramonte) is the Big Ten's all-time leader in kills and ranks sixth in NCAA history.
NCAA Tournament Schedule
The 64-team NCAA Tournament is divided into 16 four-team subregionals in the first weekend. The top seed in each of the 16 subregionals is the host team for the first and second rounds. Minnesota is the top seed in the subregional at the Sports Pavilion. Nationally, Minnesota is the No. 2 seed in the West Region. No. 1 Hawaii, No. 3 UC-Santa Barbara and No. 4 Santa Clara are the other nationally seeded teams in the West Region.
Wisconsin leads six Big Ten teams into the 2000 NCAA Volleyball Tournament. Wisconsin, Minnesota, Penn State and Ohio State have been seeded nationally in the top 16 and will host subregionals this weekend. Michigan State will travel to UCLA for a subregional, and Michigan heads to Arizona. In last year's NCAA Tournament, the Big Ten went 8-0 in the first round and advanced Minnesota and Penn State to the final 16. The Nittany Lions are the defending national champion.
The subregional schedule at the Sports Pavilion:
Friday, Dec. 1 - Duke (21-12) vs. Arizona State (17-11), 6 p.m. Robert Morris (21-15) vs. Minnesota (28-3), 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2 - Winners of Friday's matches, 7 p.m. Minnesota Volleyball is On The Air
All of Minnesota's NCAA matches will be broadcast on radio. Tom Witschen and Linda Shudlick will have the call of Friday's match beginning at approximately 7:50 p.m. on WDGY AM-630. There is no television coverage of this weekend's matches.
The Gopher Starters
No. Name Pos. Notes 1 Charnette Fair MB 2.90 kills per game, .328 hitting percentage 2 Lindsey Berg S 0.68 aces per game (1st in Big Ten) 3 Yvonne VanOort OH 2.45 kills per game, 3.43 digs per game 5 Lisa Aschenbrenner OPP 1.32 kills per game, 0.71 blocks/game 10 Stephanie Hagen MB 1.58 blocks per game (1st in Big Ten) 15 Nicole Branagh OH 5.67 kills per game (1st in Big Ten) 2000 Final Big Ten Standings
Conference Overall Wisconsin 18-2 .900 28-3 .903 Minnesota 17-3 .850 28-3 .903 Penn State 16-4 .800 27-5 .844 Ohio State 14-6 .700 24-6 .800 Michigan State 10-10 .500 17-12 .586 Michigan 9-11 .450 19-12 .613 Iowa 9-11 .450 13-15 .464 Indiana 7-13 .350 16-14 .533 Purdue 5-15 .250 13-19 .406 Illinois 4-16 .200 13-18 .419 Northwestern 2-18 .100 5-25 .167 Wisconsin Wins Big Ten Championship On Final Night
Wisconsin won matches at Michigan and Michigan State last weekend to clinch its third Big Ten volleyball championship. The Badgers and Gophers were tied heading into the final night, but Wisconsin's win in East Lansing and Minnesota's loss at Ohio State gave the Badgers the outright title.
A Record-Setting Season in Progress
Minnesota will set school records for winning percentage in both overall and Big Ten matches for a season. The Gophers' current .903 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 25-win plateau for the fourth time in the NCAA era and can reach 30 wins for the first time in the NCAA era with two wins in the post- season. The Golden Gophers have posted back-to-back 25-win seasons in the NCAA era of volleyball (19 seasons).
Best Winning Percentage - Minnesota Volleyball Overall Record Pct. Big Ten Record Pct. 1. 2000 28-3 .903 1. 2000 17-3 .850 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 Branagh Named Co-Big Ten Player of the Year
Minnesota senior Nicole Branagh was named the Big Ten Co-Player of the Year, sharing the award with Wisconsin junior Sherisa Livingston. It is the first time since 1983 that a Gopher has won the award, with Martie Larsen winning the honor. Branagh was a unanimous selection to her third All-Big Ten team. She is the third Gopher to be named to three All-Big Ten teams, following Andrea Gonzalez (1985, 86, 87, 88) and Katrien DeDecker (1993, 95, 96).
Gopher junior Stephanie Hagen (Minnetonka, Minn./Hopkins) was a unanimous selection to the All-Big Ten team, the second time Hagen has been named to the all-conference team. Minnesota junior Lindsey Berg (Honolulu, Hawaii/Punahou) was also named to the All-Big Ten team and becomes the first Gopher setter in history to be named to two All-Big Ten teams. Minnesota and Wisconsin each had three players selected on the 13-player all-conference team.
2000 All-Big Ten Team Nicole Branagh, OH, Minnesota* Stephanie Hagen, MB, Minnesota* Sherisa Livingston, MB, Wisconsin* Jenny Maastricht, OH, Wisconsin* Betsy Spicer, MB, Illinois* Lindsey Berg, S, Minnesota Fabiana de Abreu, S/H, Iowa Sarah Gustin, OH, Michigan State Lizzy Fitzgerald, S, Wisconsin Mishka Levy, MB, Penn State Katie Schumacher, OH, Penn State Katie Virtue, S, Ohio State Amanda Welter, OPP, Indiana *unanimous selection Honorable Mention: Sue Calligaris, OH, Ohio State; Erin Hartley, OH, Michigan State, Christie Landry, S, Michigan State; Claudia Rodriguez, OPP, Wisconsin; Amanda Rome, OH, Penn State; Jessica Sanborn, MB, Michigan State; Suzie Stiling, MB, Ohio State 2000 Big Ten All-Freshman Team Melissa Brewer, MB, Indiana Jessica Hayden, S, Penn State Erika Lange, MB, Northwestern Joanna Lowry, OH, Purdue Claudia Rodriguez, RS, Wisconsin Cara Smith, MB, Penn State Co-Players of the Year: Nicole Branagh, OH, Minnesota Sherisa Livingston, MB, Wisconsin Freshman of the Year: Claudia Rodriguez, OPP, Wisconsin Coach of the Year (Coaches): Pete Waite, Wisconsin Coach of the Year (Media): Pete Waite, Wisconsin 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 watched the Penn State match Nov. 4, the second- largest volleyball crowd in the seven-year history of the Sports 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 35,980 fans for 14 matches this season, the first time the Gophers have drawn over 35,000 fans for a season. Minnesota ranks fourth nationally in volleyball attendance at 2,570 fans per match, an average that exceeds the school record of 2,136 fans set in 1997.
2000 National Attendance Leaders 1. 6,811 Hawaii 108,974 in 16 matches 2. 4,276 Nebraska 59,867 in 14 matches 3. 2,856 Wisconsin 37,122 in 13 matches 4. 2,570 Minnesota 35,980 in 14 matches 5. 2,460 Penn State 41,827 in 17 matches *courtesy Diane K. Nordstrom, University of Wisconsin Minnesota Single-Match Records 1. 6,046 vs. Purdue (W) 9/28/90 2. 6,002 vs. Notre Dame (W) 12/10/93 3. 5,840 vs. Penn State 11/19/99 4. 5,116 vs. Penn State 11/4/00 5. 5,011 vs. Ohio State (W) 11/11/89 (W) - Match played at Williams Arena Previous NCAA Experience
Senior outside hitters Nicole Branagh and Lisa Aschenbrenner (Algonquin, Ill./Huntley) become the third and fourth Gophers in program history to participate in three NCAA Tournaments. Both Branagh and Aschenbrenner were members of the 1997 NCAA Tournament team that traveled to Provo, Utah, and the 1999 NCAA Tournament team in Los Angeles and State College, Pa. The other two Gophers who participated in three NCAA Tournaments are Sarah Pearman (1993, 1996, 1997) and Susan Shudlick (1996, 1997, 1999).
Senior Charnette Fair (Huntington Beach, Calif./Montclair), juniors Lindsey Berg, Stephanie Hagen, Yvonne VanOort (Russelsheim, Germany/V.C. Wiesbaden), and sophomore Lisa Axel (Buffalo, Minn./ Buffalo) will all be making their second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. No current Gopher has ever played an NCAA Tournament match at the Sports Pavilion.
Branagh Becomes All-Time Big Ten Leader in Kills
Senior outside hitter Nicole Branagh is the Big Ten's all-time leader in kills. She surpassed former Gopher All-American Katrien DeDecker late in the fourth game against Iowa and now has 2,326 career kills, 26 more than DeDecker. Branagh has 590 kills this season, the fourth- highest single-season total in Minnesota history. Branagh averaged 6.84 kills per game during the month of November after averaging 5.18 kills per game over the first 23 matches. She accumulated double-figure kills in her final 70 Big Ten matches. Branagh ranks sixth on the NCAA's all- time list for kills.
Big Ten Conference All-Time Kill Leaders 1.Nicole Branagh (Minnesota) 1997-2000 2,326 2.Katrien DeDecker (Minnesota) 1993-96 2,300 3.Jenna Wrobel (Michigan State) 1995-98 2,292 4.Andrea Gonzalez (Minnesota) 1985-88 2,140 5.Debbie McDonald (Purdue) 1986-89 2,108 NCAA All-Time Kill Leaders 1.Svetlana Vtyurina (G. Washington) 1992-95 3,043 2.Javonne Brooks (New Orleans) 1989-92 2,932 3.Tara Cross (Long Beach State) 1986-89 2,767 4.Priscilla Pacheco (Georgia) 1991-94 2,675 5.Jill McCreary (Akron) 1987, 89-91 2,439 6.Nicole Branagh (Minnesota) 1997-2000 2,326 Minnesota Single-Season Kill Leaders 1.Katrien DeDecker 1996 738 2.Nicole Branagh 1999 679 3.Chris Schaefer 1988 646 4.Nicole Branagh 2000 590 5.Nicole Branagh 1998 579 Branagh leads Minnesota with 5.67 kills per game overall and 6.01 kills per game in Big Ten play. In last week's statistics, she led the Big Ten and was ninth nationally in kills per game. Branagh has 384 digs this season, good for sixth on Minnesota's single-season list. She has 1,204 digs in her career, ranking third on Minnesota's career list. Branagh has never missed a match in her 131-match Minnesota career. She was the MVP of the Silver Legacy/Ray Wersching Invitational during the first weekend of the season, a member of the Diet Coke all-tournament team and a three-time selection as Big Ten Player of the Week.
Minnesota Single-Season Dig Leaders 1.Chris Schaefer 1989 495 2.Sarah Pearman 1996 448 3.Sharon Oesterling 1989 431 4.Emily Ahlquist 1992 411 5.Becky Lindberg 1989 389 6.Nicole Branagh 2000 384 Minnesota All-Time Dig Leaders 1.Sharon Oesterling 1986-89 1,291 2.Chris Schaefer 1986-89 1,287 3.Nicole Branagh 1997-2000 1,204 4.Sarah Pearman 1993, 95-97 1,198 5.Andrea Gonzalez 1985-88 1,188 Berg Among National Leaders in Service Aces, Assists
Junior Lindsey Berg was the first player ever to lead the Big Ten in service aces for two consecutive years and will likely do it for the third year in a row. She has 72 aces in 106 games this season, an average of 0.68 aces per game, including a season-high seven aces against Michigan State on Nov. 18. Berg led the Big Ten and was second nationally in aces per game last week. She served her 200th career ace on the first point of the Ohio State match Saturday, and now has 203 service aces, good for sixth place on Minnesota's career list. The 72 service aces this season is a career-best for a single season and ranks seventh on Minnesota's single-season list.
Berg averages 14.36 assists per game, which led the Big Ten and was ninth nationally last week. Berg went over the 4,000-assist mark for her career Nov. 3 against Indiana. She has 1,522 assists this season, which is currently sixth on Minnesota's single-season list, and 4,459 assists in her three-year career, which is fourth on the Gophers' all-time list and first among Minnesota setters after their junior year. Berg was named to the all-tournament team in all three of Minnesota's preseason tournaments, including MVP awards at the Georgia Tech Classic and the Diet Coke Classic.
Minnesota Single-Season Service Ace Leaders 1.Sharon Oesterling 1989 113 2.Jill Halsted 1981 110 3.Sharon Oesterling 1987 106 4.Andrea Gonzalez 1988 91 5.Debbie Libbesmeier 1982 74 Jean Schintz 1993 74 7.Lindsey Berg 2000 72 Minnesota All-Time Service Ace Leaders 1.Sharon Oesterling 1986-89 314 2.Andrea Gonzalez 1985-88 265 3.Jean Schintz 1991-94 223 4.Jill Halsted 1979-82 221 5.Diane Libbesmeier 1979-82 204 6.Lindsey Berg 1998-2000 203 Minnesota Single-Season Assist Leaders 1.Sharon Oesterling 1989 1,725 2.Becky Bauer 1996 1,657 3.Becky Bauer 1994 1,641 4.Sharon Oesterling 1987 1,595 5.Lindsey Berg 1999 1,557 6.Lindsey Berg 2000 1,522 Minnesota All-Time Assist Leaders 1.Sharon Oesterling 1986-89 6,024 2.Becky Bauer 1994-97 5,918 3.Sue Jackson 1990-93 5,120 4.Lindsey Berg 1998-2000 4,459 Hagen Leads Gophers in Two Categories
Junior middle blocker Stephanie Hagen continues to lead Minnesota in two statistical categories. Hagen leads the Golden Gophers with a 1.58 blocks per game average overall and a 1.59 blocks per game average in Big Ten play. Last week, she led the Big Ten and was seventh nationally in blocks per game. Hagen has set a Minnesota school record with 144 block assists this season, breaking teammate Charnette Fair's record of 141 block assists in 1999. She is fourth on Minnesota's single season list with 163 total blocks and is sixth on Minnesota's all-time list with 387 total blocks.
Hagen leads Minnesota with a .376 hitting percentage overall and a .360 hitting percentage in conference play. In last week's statistics, she was third in the Big Ten (first in conference play) and 13th nationally in hitting percentage. She ranks second on Minnesota's single-season list and continues to be the Golden Gophers' all-time leader in hitting percentage with a .355 mark. Earlier this season, Hagen was named the AVCA/Sports Imports National Player of the Week and the Big Ten Player of the Week on Oct. 2. She was also the Minnesota Women's Athletics Athlete of the Month in September, and was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District team.
Minnesota Single-Season Hitting Percentage Leaders 1.Jill Halsted 1980 .410 2.Stephanie Hagen 2000 .376 3.Jill Halsted 1982 .369 4.Lori Miller 1987 .367 5.Stephanie Hagen 1999 .363 Minnesota All-Time Hitting Percentage Leaders 1.Stephanie Hagen 1998-2000 .355 2.Jill Halsted 1979-82 .324 3.Charnette Fair 1999-2000 .310 4.Lori Miller 1986-89 .288 5.Martie Larsen 1980-83 .277 Minnesota Single-Season Total Block Leaders 1.Charnette Fair 1999 175 2.Pam Miller 1985 169 3.Jill Halsted 1981 164 4.Stephanie Hagen 2000 163 5.Martie Larsen 1983 162 Minnesota All-Time Total Block Leaders 1.Pam Miller 1983-86 536 2.Martie Larsen 1980-83 448 3.Dawn Thompson 1987-90 434 4.Lori Miller 1986-89 430 5.Gretchen Dahl 1991-94 416 6.Stephanie Hagen 1998-2000 387 VanOort Provides Passing, Defense
Minnesota junior Yvonne VanOort has been a primary passer and defender for Minnesota this season. She set a career high with 27 digs against Penn State on Nov. 4, and has a career-high 360 digs this season, just two shy of Minnesota's single-season top ten. VanOort posted the second 20-20 match of her career Nov. 18 against Michigan State with a season- high 22 kills and 20 digs. Her first 20-20 match was in a win against Wisconsin last season at the Sports Pavilion. VanOort is second on the team in digs (3.43 per game), fourth in kills (2.45 per game), and has more blocks (87) than any other Minnesota outside hitter. Her 87 blocks is a career high for a season, as is her 0.83 blocks per game average. VanOort ranked fifth in the Big Ten last week in digs per game. She needs 91 kills for 1,000 in her career and 132 digs for 1,000 in her career. Only five Gophers in history (Nicole Branagh, Katrien DeDecker, Andrea Gonzalez, Chris Schaefer and Jean Schintz) have posted 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs in a career.
Minnesota Now Ninth in AVCA/USA Today Poll
Minnesota is ranked ninth in the Nov. 27 edition of the AVCA/USA Today poll, down two positions from last week. In the Oct. 2 poll, the Golden Gophers were listed fifth, their highest ranking in school history. Minnesota has 1037 poll points, down from last week's 1148 poll points and its school-record total of 1269 poll points in the Oct. 2 poll. Minnesota is one of four Big Ten teams in the USA Today poll. The others are No. 4 Wisconsin, No. 8 Penn State and No. 17 Ohio State. Minnesota has appeared in a school-record 23 consecutive polls, and the last 13 weeks in the top ten in the country.
2000 Polls Poll Ranking Points Poll Ranking Points Preseason 11th 892 Oct. 16 7th 1149 Sept. 4 10th 954 Oct. 23 7th 1156 Sept. 11 9th 1054 Oct. 30 7th 1104 Sept. 18 9th 1087 Nov. 6 8th 1135 Sept. 25 6th 1194 Nov. 13 8th 1099 Oct. 2 5th 1269 Nov. 20 7th 1148 Oct. 9 8th 1055 Nov. 27 9th 1037 USA Today/AVCA Division I Volleyball Poll -- Nov. 27, 2000 Record Points Previous 1. Nebraska (60) 28-0 1500 1 2. USC 25-2 1417 3 3. Hawaii 27-1 1355 2 4. Wisconsin 28-3 1322 5 5. Arizona 25-4 1198 4 6. Colorado State 30-4 1187 6 7. Pacific 26-3 1098 10 8. Penn State 27-5 1084 8 9. Minnesota 28-3 1037 7 10.Florida 27-4 986 9 11.UCLA 22-7 910 11 12.BYU 24-6 880 12 13.Long Beach State 22-7 722 16 14.UC Santa Barbara 23-7 711 13 15.Pepperdine 23-6 642 15 16.Ohio State 24-6 633 17 17.Santa Clara 26-4 564 14 18.Stanford 18-11 434 20 19.Utah 22-7 409 18 20.Notre Dame 25-6 383 19 21.Utah State 21-9 250 21 22.Loyola Marymount 20-8 189 23 23.Texas A&M 19-8 186 25 24.Kansas State 20-8 160 22 25.Missouri 24-6 58 24 Receiving more than 30 points - Northern Iowa (49). Minnesota NCAA Tournament History
This is Minnesota's sixth trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Gophers have won at least one match in each of their five previous appearances. A quick synopsis of the five tournament experiences:
1989 - Minnesota earned its first-ever NCAA Tournament berth with a 28- 8 record. The 32-team tournament placed the Gophers at home against Colorado in the first round. 4,969 packed into Williams Arena to see Chris Schaefer pound 18 kills and three other Gophers reach double figures in kills as Minnesota defeated Colorado, 15-11, 16-14, 15-11. Minnesota advanced to the regional semifinal at Nebraska, but the Cornhuskers gutted out a four-game victory, 15-10, 11-15, 15-13, 15-12. Schaefer had 20 kills at a .365 hitting percentage to lead the Gopher offense.
1993 - The Gophers qualified for the 48-team tournament and defeated Ball State, 15-6, 15-11, 15-9 at Williams Arena, limiting the Cardinals to an .008 hitting percentage. Minnesota advanced to play at UC-Santa Barbara, and the Gophers pulled off one of the biggest upsets in school history, defeating the Gauchos in five games, 13-15, 15-7, 5-15, 16-14, 15-10. First-year outside hitter Katrien DeDecker led Minnesota with 21 kills. The Gophers returned to Williams Arena to host the Mideast Regional and Notre Dame in the regional semifinal. In another five-game struggle, the Fighting Irish pulled out a 15-9, 11-15, 15-13, 11-15, 15-13 thriller in front of 6,002 fans to end the Gopher dream.
1996 - Mike Hebert's first season at Minnesota culminated with an NCAA Tournament berth. The Gophers hosted in the first round against Central Florida. The Gophers rallied from a two-game deficit behind 17 kills each from Katrien DeDecker and Jane Passer to defeat the Golden Knights in five games, 8-15, 12-15, 15-12, 15-9, 17-15. Minnesota followed with a trip to face Long Beach State in the second round, and the 49ers dispatched the Gophers, 15-10, 15-13, 15-6, despite 20 kills from DeDecker in her final collegiate match.
1997 - The Gophers made consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament for the first time and traveled to Provo, Utah, for the first two rounds. Linda Shudlick had 18 kills at a .567 hitting percentage as the Gophers defeated Miami (Ohio), 16-14, 15-5, 15-12. Minnesota was eliminated in the second round by Brigham Young, 15-8, 15-9, 15-11, despite 15 kills from Nicole Branagh.
1999 - Minnesota returned to the NCAA Tournament after a year's absence as the Big Ten's second-place team with a No. 5 seed in the Central Region. The Gophers opened with a 15-9, 15-10, 15-10 sweep of Sacramento State in the first round, led by Nicole Branagh's 23 kills and Stephanie Hagen's .636 hitting percentage, a Minnesota record for an NCAA Tournament match. Minnesota followed with one of the greatest comebacks in NCAA Tournament history, rallying from two games down and four match points in the third game to win at Southern California in five games, 3-15, 4-15, 16-14, 15-10, 15-10. Branagh had 25 of her match-high 31 kills in the final three games. The Gophers were eliminated in the regional semifinals by Penn State, the eventual national champion, in three games, 15-9, 15-9, 17-15, at Rec Hall.
Robert Morris (21-15, 10-1) was an automatic qualifier into the NCAA Tournament field, winning the Northeast Conference tournament Nov. 18- 19 by defeating Central Connecticut State in three games and Maryland- Baltimore County in five games. After beginning the season 4-10, the Colonials have won 17 of their last 22 matches, including 10 of their 11 matches against conference foes. Robert Morris is making its second appearance in the NCAA Volleyball Tournament. In 1999, the Colonials dropped a three-game match at Penn State in the first round.
Robert Morris is led on offense by sophomore middle blocker Katie Noble (3.09 kills per game, .253 hitting pct., 0.71 blocks per game) and senior outside hitter Maryann Liska (3.08 kills per game, .177 hitting pct., 2.54 digs per game). The setting chores have been split by junior Michelle Bartlett (5.99 assists per game) and sophomore Traci Zureick (4.12 assists per game).
Head coach Tim Horsmon is in his second year at Robert Morris and has a record of 40-30 (.571). This will be the first meeting between the two schools.
Arizona State (17-11, 9-9) was an at-large selection into the NCAA Tournament from the Pacific-10 Conference. The Sun Devils were one of six Pac-10 teams selected, matching the number from the Big Ten and Big 12 conferences. Arizona State has dropped its last three matches to USC, UCLA and Arizona, all of whom are seeded among the top 12 teams in the NCAA Tournament. The Sun Devils played half of their 28 matches against the NCAA Tournament field, going 5-9 in the 14 matches. Arizona State has played one match in the last three weeks, and will have 13 days off before its match with Duke on Friday.
The Sun Devils are led by senior outside hitter Amanda Burbridge (5.63 kills per game, .244 hitting pct., 3.90 digs per game). She had 26 kills in Arizona State's last match, a four-game loss to Arizona. Junior Jami Coughlin contributes 3.47 kills per game, while first-year setter Cheryl Anglin averages 13.11 assists per game and has directed the Sun Devil offense to a .237 team hitting percentage.
Head coach Patti Synder-Park is in her 12th season in Tempe with a record of 190-152 (.556). Minnesota is 0-2 lifetime against Arizona State and 0-1 against the Sun Devils in the NCAA era of volleyball, losing a 1994 match in three games at Arizona State.
Duke (21-12, 8-8) was an at-large selection into the NCAA Tournament from the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Blue Devils were one of three ACC teams that qualified for post-season, along with ACC Tournament champion North Carolina and Georgia Tech. Duke has won six of its last eight matches, including a five-game win over Georgia Tech in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament. The Blue Devils are 2-7 against the NCAA Tournament field, with the wins coming against Loyola Marymount and Georgia Tech. It is the first trip to the NCAA Tournament for the Blue Devils since 1994.
The Blue Devils have four players within 100 kills of the team lead. The top three are junior outside hitter Ashley Harris (3.10 kills per game, 2.64 digs per game), sophomore outside hitter Jill Sonne (2.92 kills per game, 0.90 blocks per game) and first-year middle blocker Krista Dill (2.96 kills per game, 1.18 kills per game). The setter is junior Pamela Gottfred (11.22 assists per game).
Head coach Jolene Nagel is in her second year at Duke and has a record of 34-26 (.567) in Durham. Duke is 1-0 lifetime against Minnesota, defeating the Gophers in four games in 1994 at North Carolina.