The UC Santa Barbara Gauchos ended the 2000 Minnesota volleyball season Thursday, defeating the Golden Gophers, 15-12, 7-15, 15-7, 15-10 in the NCAA West Regional Semifinal at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu. The Golden Gophers end their season with a 30-4 record.
Charnette Fair set a career high with 23 kills in her final match as a Gopher and hit .514. Nicole Branagh added 19 kills and finishes her career with 2,379 kills. Branagh and Lindsey Berg each had 23 digs, while Yvonne VanOort had a double-double with 11 kills and 16 digs.
Minnesota scored the first three points of the match on Branagh's serve, and held two seven-point leads at 9-2 and 10-3. The Gauchos rallied to score 12 of the final 14 points to win the first game, 15-12. UCSB took its first lead of the game at 12-11, but a VanOort ace tied the game at 12-12. The Gauchos scored the final three points of the game on an ace, a Gopher hitting error and a kill. UCSB hit .375 in the first game compared to Minnesota's .283 hitting percentage. Fair and Branagh each had eight kills in the opening game for Minnesota.
Berg served the first three points of the second game, but UCSB forced ties at 3-3 and 4-4 and took a lead at 5-4. Minnesota scored the next point on a Santa Barbara error to begin a nine-point run. Berg served the next five points, which included an ace, a Fair kill and three Minnesota blocks to give Minnesota a 10-5 lead. Branagh ended the run by serving three points, two on VanOort kills and one on a Minnesota block to increase the lead to 13-5. UCSB scored the next two points, but a Berg kill and a UCSB error ended the second game, 15-7. Minnesota outblocked Santa Barbara in the second game, 4-0, and held the Gauchos to a -.031 hitting percentage. Fair had five of Minnesota's 11 kills in the second game.
Santa Barbara did not trail in the entire third game. Minnesota forced ties at 1-1 and 2-2, and was as close as 4-3 and 7-5, but the Gauchos scored eight of the final 10 points to win the third game, 15-7. UCSB had a .275-.130 hitting percentage advantage in the third game and committed five errors to Minnesota's nine errors. Fair and Branagh each had five kills in the third game to lead Minnesota.
Minnesota took a brief 2-1 lead in the fourth game, but the Gauchos scored 10 of the next 12 points to create an 11-4 lead. Minnesota scored the next four points off of Lisa Aschenbrenner's serve to close to within 11-8, but the Gauchos scored the next three points to force match point at 14-8. Minnesota held off six match points, before losing the fourth game, 15-10. Minnesota was limited to a .157 hitting percentage in the final game.