Zemaitis beats up Gophers again

by Sarah Mitchell

Minnesota’s volleyball team is scheduled to play No. 1 Penn State Friday night at the Sports Pavilion, but the Gophers might have already competed against their opponent off the season.
Team USA stopped in Minneapolis Monday as a part of its USA Collegiate Challenge Series and overpowered the Gophers, winning 3-1 by scores of 15-6, 15-7, 10-15 and 15-8.
While the Gophers were pesky — especially in the third game, where the score remained 6-6 and side-outs were the theme — Hebert labeled the match as “never in doubt.”
“We were happy that we scored as many points as we did,” Hebert said.
The Gophers took the loss graciously, but Minnesota had plenty of positives on which to focus. Sophomore outside hitter Nicole Branagh recorded nine kills in game three before ending the match with a total of 13, and freshman Lindsey Berg had a stellar third game with three service aces.
For Branagh the excitement of the game was the opposing team.
“It’s fun to play against them and see who’s out there playing for us,” Branagh said.
Former Penn State All-American Terri Zemaitis was back in the Sports Pavilion, this time as a member of Team USA. Zemaitis recorded 13 kills to rack up a .611 attack percentage. After an impressive match, Zemaitis offered encouraging words about the Gophers.
“Minnesota is a really good team,” Zemaitis said. “I told everybody before the game we just can’t come in here and think we’ll blow them out.”
But when asked to predict the winner of Friday night’s match, Zemaitis displayed more loyalty than objectivity.
“No comment,” Zemaitis said. “Go Big Blue.”
Not too shabby
By losing 3-2 to Auburn in the championship game of the Diet Coke Classic, Minnesota (10-1) fell one game short of tying the best season start in Gopher history. The 1974 Minnesota team began the season 11-0.
“We lost our first match, but it’s nothing to be sad about,” Yvonne Wichert said.
Step by Step
Despite the loss to Auburn, the Gophers not only maintained their national ranking in the USA Today/AVCA Division I Poll, but actually moved up one spot.
The Big Ten continues to remain the toughest conference in the nation. For the second straight week, six Big Ten teams — No. 1 Penn State, No. 6 Wisconsin, No. 14 Ohio State, No. 18 Michigan State and No. 23 Illinois — were nationally ranked.
Side Outs
ù Berg’s jump serve provides a Gopher threat. The freshman leads the Big Ten with 25 service aces.
ù Branagh’s average of 5.29 kills per game is team leading and ranks second in the Big Ten, running a close second behind Michigan State’s Jenna Wrobel at 5.50 kills per game.