V-ball coach calls loss to Michigan a letdown

by Tim Klobuchar

Minnesota’s volleyball matches against Wisconsin and Michigan were separated by just two days on the calendar, a fact almost impossible to believe considering the differences in the Gophers’ play.
The three-game sweep over the Badgers was arguably the team’s high point of the season, while the three-game fall to the Wolverines was one of the worst performances by the Gophers this year.
The two performances invited the description “letdown,” a term that Gophers coach Mike Hebert was uncomfortable with.
“To get ready for a team like Wisconsin when you’re the underdog, you have to prepare for weeks,” Hebert said after the Michigan match. “You have to spend a lot of cash, and tonight we went bankrupt. We reached back for something and it wasn’t there.”
Hebert said he could see during Thursday’s practice that the Gophers could be headed for trouble on Friday. But after beating Wisconsin, their poor effort against Michigan still shocked some of the Gophers.
“I personally believed we could beat Wisconsin,” said Tara Baynes, Minnesota’s sophomore middle blocker. “So I was surprised by our inconsistency. We knew Michigan could do it, but I thought we’d play better.”
Baynes plays well in loss
Katrien DeDecker has an overwhelming majority of the Gopher’s kills this season and deservedly so. She set the school and Big Ten record for career kills last Friday. But Baynes nearly broke DeDecker’s season-long streak of leading the team in kills when she recorded 12 on Friday against Michigan — one fewer than DeDecker.
Baynes, who is still battling a back injury, was also one away from her season-high in kills, set Oct. 18 against Indiana.
She had no kills in the first game, seven in the next and five in the final game. Baynes said there was some strategy behind that pattern.
“We figured they were keying on Katrien a lot,” she said. “That left some of the other hitters open.”
Michigan State finally loses
The No. 5 Spartans, who had been undefeated in the Big Ten at 12-0 going into last weekend, dropped a pair of matches at No. 6 Penn State and No. 15 Ohio State. Consequently, they fell into a first-place tie with the Lions.
The Gophers make an identical Penn State-Ohio State trip on Nov. 29 and 30, which is the last weekend of the regular season.
More records?
With the Big Ten career kill record out of the way, DeDecker still has a few single-season records for which to shoot. She has 583 kills so far, and that mark trails only Chris Schaefer’s school record of 646 set in 1988.
If the season were to end today, DeDecker’s total would be the eighth-highest in Big Ten history. Illinois’ Erin Borske set the record with 714 kills one year ago.
ù On the night she set the career kill record, DeDecker had just 13 kills — her lowest total in a Big Ten match this season. The 12 hitting errors she committed was just one away from her season high.
ù Minnesota’s loss to Michigan (10-14) was its first against a team with a losing record this year.