Second ankle sprain unlikely to sideline Berg

Brian Hall

Senior co-captain Lindsey Berg’s playing status is once again up in the air for Minnesota’s volleyball team after she re-injured her left ankle at Illinois.

However, in Berg’s mind there is no question. She expects to be in the lineup this weekend when the Gophers play host to Michigan State and Michigan.

“It’s a pain that I can play with,” Berg said. “I think (the coaches) are just worried about the future and don’t want this to be an
everyday thing. I will play.”

Berg injured her ankle in the third game on Friday falling over sophomore Amanda Cipperly after a play ended.

“It just re-pulled all those ligaments and re-injured the ankle,” Hebert said. “So, here she is having to rehab all over again. But I think she will be able to play. She is practicing but the last thing we want to do is get her hurt in practice.”

Berg could have played against Indiana but was kept out of the lineup as a precautionary measure. In her place the heir apparent to the setter position became the leader of the Minnesota offense.

Against the Hoosiers freshman Lindsey Vander Well contributed 60 assists in a winning effort. It was the first Big Ten and second collegiate start for the freshman setter.

“Every setter has a little different touch on the ball,” Hebert said. “Given that, her performance at Indiana was unbelievable. It was a must-win situation. The team was down and everybody knew they needed a lift. It was a very difficult situation for a young player and I was amazed at how well she performed.”

Other players hobbling include junior Lisa Axel, senior Kathy Tilson and sophomore Kelli Wicks. Tilson and Wicks are each dealing with lower back pain while Axel has a bruised right wrist.

Axel suffered the injury attempting to retrieve an errant pass Friday at Illinois. The wrist bent backward as she dove into the bleachers. Axel played Saturday at Indiana but is not expected to practice this week. Her playing status this weekend is considered a match-time decision

Gophers add two matches

Minnesota added a pair of non-conference matches to the schedule next month. The Gophers play host to Wisconsin-Green Bay on Nov. 5 and Minnesota-Duluth on Nov. 11.

Minnesota cancelled four games due to the Sept. 11 attacks. Meanwhile, the Gophers have attempted to reschedule the matches.

Hebert is looking for more development time for his young team and feels any exposure it receives will help in the future.

“They are Division II schools, so it doesn’t hurt us in terms of our RPI,” Hebert said. “It is really kind of neutral there, we just wanted to have the opportunity to play. We are really happy to have added these matches.

“I have always believed in scheduling to the max. As long as we can play, let’s play.”

Added Berg: “Hopefully it will give us a couple more wins to get into the NCAA tournament. Games are fun. You can never complain about adding more games.”

The Nov. 5 match is slated for a 7 p.m. start while first serve on Nov. 11 is at 2 p.m.

 

Minnesota falls in poll

The Gophers (12-8, 6-6 Big Ten) dropped three spots to No. 24 in the latest USA Today/AVCA poll.

Minnesota was ranked 15th during the preseason and has now appeared in 35 consecutive polls, an ongoing school record.

Long Beach State is No. 1 with a perfect 18-0 record while Big Ten leader Wisconsin (17-3, 11-1) is No. 7, followed by Ohio State (18-2, 10-2) at No. 10, Penn State (16-4, 9-3) at No. 11 and Illinois (15-5, 8-4) rounding out the poll at No. 25.

Minnesota is sitting tied for sixth place in the conference with Michigan State (13-6, 6-6).

The Badgers suffered their first conference loss on Saturday to the Lions in five games at State College.

The Illini are the hottest team in the conference with seven consecutive match wins. They have not lost since Oct. 6 at Minnesota. Illinois has lost only two conference games since.

 

Brian Hall covers volleyball and welcomes comments at [email protected]