U v-ball looks ahead

by Tim Klobuchar

The Gophers volleyball team will find out Sunday who and where they play in the NCAA tournament. The brackets for the tournament will be announced live at 5 p.m. on MSC.
With two matches left in the regular season, the worst Big Ten record with which Minnesota can finish is 13-7. If history is a good indicator, that mark will be enough to get the Gophers into the draw. No Big Ten team with a record of 12-8 or better has ever been denied a berth since 1993, when the tournament expanded to 48 teams.
But the selection process is much like that used for the basketball tournament, which has caused its share of controversy over the years for Gophers fans. The committee factors in plenty of team statistics other than win-loss records, including performance against ranked teams.
The Gophers should qualify in that category as well. They have beaten then-No. 8 Ohio State and then-No. 9 Wisconsin this season, both in three-game sweeps. Still, nothing is certain, and Minnesota would like nothing more than an upset of either Ohio State or Penn State this weekend to ice its selection in the tournament.
“You never know,” said Gophers outside hitter Katrien DeDecker. “You can never say, We’re in for sure.'”
Broken record
Kill records are becoming a habit for DeDecker. Already the holder of the Big Ten record for career kills, she padded her resume in Saturday’s match against Michigan State.
DeDecker’s 15 kills in that match gave her 651 on the season, breaking Chris Schaefer’s school record of 646, set in 1988. DeDecker’s total is the third-best single-season performance in Big Ten history.
Erin Borske of Illinois set the record last year with 714. Ohio State’s Vanessa Wouters is in second with 660, and like DeDecker, her season is still in progress.
Recruiting news
Gophers coach Mike Hebert, in his first season at Minnesota, has done well this year in recruiting in the Midwest. The three players in the region who have verbally committed to Minnesota puts the Gophers’ recruiting class in the top half of the Big Ten, said national talent scout Bill Feldman.
Here are the three Midwestern players who have verbally committed to Minnesota:
ù Erica Glaser, a 6-foot-0 middle blocker from Millard North (Neb.) High School, which is in the Omaha area. Feldman said Glaser is one of the top 15 middle blocker recruits in the country.
ù Heather Baxter, a 6-foot-0 middle blocker/outside hitter from West Aurora (Ill.) High School, which is in suburban Chicago.
ù Lisa Ashenbrenner, a 5-foot-11 outside hitter from Huntley (Ill.) High School, which is also in a Chicago suburb.
Another top middle blocker recruit, Meggan Kohnen of Dubuque (Iowa) Wahlert High School, still has not given a verbal commitment. She has narrowed her choices to Minnesota and Texas. Kohnen is 6-foot-2, and Wahlert has the sixth-ranked high school team in the country.
The signing period for volleyball begins in February.Until then, coaches are forbidden by the NCAA to talk about their recruits. Other than Glaser, Baxter and Ashenbrenner, the Gophers are expected to sign three other recruits for next season.
Feldman said that the Gophers’ recruiting class is in the top four in the Big Ten thus far. Penn State has the best, and Indiana, Michigan State and Minnesota have also done well.