The 17th-ranked Minnesota volleyball team (23-10) advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament with a three-game victory over Wisconsin-Green Bay (23-11) on Friday, Dec. 5 at the Sports Pavilion. With the victory the Golden Gophers will play No. 16 Northern Iowa (28-5) in the second round, a rematch of the second round of the 2001 NCAA Tournament.
Minnesota also moved to 6-0 in NCAA Tournament home matches at the Sports Pavilion.
The Golden Gophers jumped out to a quick 14-9 lead in the first game. Wisconsin-Green Bay scored four of the next six points to cut the lead to 16-13. The lead moved to 18-15, before Minnesota scored five of the next seven points to move up 23-17. The Phoenix trimmed the lead to 25-21, but Eri n Martin (Ames, Iowa) halted their momentum with a kill to make it 26-21. Wisconsin-Green Bay followed with an attack error that put Minnesota up 27-21. The Phoenix scored the next point to make it 27-22, but followed with a pair of attack errors to make it 29-22. Senior opposite hitter Cas sie Busse (Prior Lake, Minn.) followed with a kill to give Minnesota game one 30-22. Martin paced the Gopher attack with seven kills. Minnesota outdug the Phoenix 27 to 20 in the first game.
Busse opened the second game with a pair of service aces that helped propel the Golden Gophers to an early 9-0 lead. Wisconsin-Green Bay scored five of the next eight points to cut it to 12-5. However, Minnesota continued to roll extending their lead all the way out to 24-9. The Golden Gophers scored six of the last nine points to claim their biggest margin of victory in a game this season at 30-12. Tri sha Bratford (Reseda, Calif.) and Martin each had five kills in the game. Minnesota had 18 kills and hit .412 in the game, while limiting the Phoenix to five kills and a -.034 hitting percentage. The Golden Gophers also had six service aces in the game.
Minnesota jumped out to an early 8-5 lead in game three, and extended it to 17-8 with nine of the next 12 points in the game. The Golden Gophers moved out to a 22-13 lead, and widened the gap to game point at 29-16 with seven of the next 10 points. Freshman Kel ly Bowman (Maple Grove, Minn.) delivered a service aces for the final point of the match to give Minnesota game three 30-16.
The Golden Gophers were led by Martin who had 20 kills, five blocks, tied a season-high three service aces and hit .450 (20-2-40). With the 20 kills Martin became only the third Golden Gopher player to register 20 or more kills in a first-round tournament match. Bratford had 12 kills, eight digs and also tied a season-high with three service aces. Busse tied with a team-high 12 digs, had eight kills and two service aces. Pau la Gentil (Forteleaza Ceara', Brazil) and Mar ci Peniata (Plymouth, Minn.) had 12 and 10 digs respectively. Lin dsey Taatjes (Prinsburg, Minn.) had 34 assists and nine digs.
Minnesota outhit Wisconsin-Green Bay .310 to .094, and had 54 kills to 28 for the Phoenix. The Golden Gophers also had 10 service aces, which was the most since Sept. 20 against UW-Milwaukee.
"Wisconsin-Green Bay came out and played very hard against us tonight," said Minnesota head coach Mike Hebert. "We served well and played good defense. After a hard-fought first game by Wisconsin- Green Bay, we did a good job jumping on them early in games two and three and putting them on their heels with early runs keyed by our service game and defense."
The Phoenix were led by Janelle Tomlinson who had six kills and nine digs. Setter Leslie Kuhn had six kills, 21 assists and 10 digs in the match.
In the first match of the night, UC Santa Barbara rallied from a 2-0 deficit to move to match point at 14-13 in the fifth game against Northern Iowa. However, the Panthers rattled off three straight points to take game five 16-14, as they advanced in a five-match thriller.
"It is always a good match when we play Northern Iowa," said Minnesota's junior setter Lin dsey Taatjes. "We play each other every year and know each other well. It is always a tough match for both teams and tomorrow should be no different."
Rachel Tink led the attack for Northern Iowa with 21 kills, along with 17 digs. Molly O'Brien had 16 kills, 14 digs and five blocks for the Panthers. Stephanie Germann had 15 kills, while Jessi Worrell and Shari Vermeer each tallied 14 for Northern Iowa. Setter Jill Arganbright had 71 assists, 11 digs and five kills, while Stephanie May had a match-high 20 digs.
Janine Shandell had a match-high 27 kills, along with 10 digs and four blocks for UC Santa Barbara. Megan Blackshire hit .412 (16-2-34) and also had 16 kills for the Gauchos. Erica Menzel had 14 kills and a team-high 18 digs. Setter Mari Bell nearly had a triple-double with 66 assists, 15 digs and eight kills.
UC Santa Barbara outhit Northern Iowa .284 to .270, and outblocked the Panthers 11.0 to 8.0. However, Northern Iowa had 103 digs to 84 for the Gauchos. Both teams finished with 86 kills in the match.
"We had some terrific digs tonight against UC Santa Barbara," said Northern Iowa coach Bobbi Peterson. We kept a lot of points alive tonight and fought through tough match against a quality team tonight."
On Saturday, Dec. 6, No. 16 Minnesota will take on No. 17 Northern Iowa in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at 7 p.m. It will be the second time the teams meet. The first time the Golden Gopher defeated the Panthers in Rochester, Minn. in