Gritty play from Berg draws coach’s admiration

Brian Hall

Senior co-captain Lindsey Berg’s ankle sprain continues to improve, but Minnesota volleyball coach Mike Hebert is being cautious with his setter and team leader.

Berg injured her left ankle making a set on the final play against Illinois on Oct. 6.

Despite the injury, Berg played last weekend at Penn State and Ohio State and is expected to be in the lineup once again Friday against Wisconsin.

Against the Lions on Friday she had 30 assists and followed that up with 45 against the Buckeyes. She added two service aces in the two games.

“In all my years I have never had a player with a Grade II ankle sprain return after six days,” Hebert said. “That was an unbelievably fastidious and courageous effort by Lindsey Berg. She played the entire two days without grumbling one second. That is a noteworthy effort by an athlete.”

Berg sat out practice Monday and Tuesday while rehabilitating her ankle. Meanwhile, she is doing ankle specific exercises and riding a stationary bike.

Berg is expected to participate in practice by the end of the week.

“Mostly we want her ready for the weekend,” Hebert said.

Minnesota drops in poll

After losing at No. 10 Ohio State and No. 11 Penn State last weekend the Gophers dropped one spot to No. 21 in the latest USA Today/AVCA coaches poll.

Minnesota (10-6, 4-4 Big Ten) continues its ongoing school record of 33 consecutive polls in which it has appeared.

Four Big Ten teams – the Gophers, Buckeyes, Lions, and Wisconsin – are ranked, with the conference-leading Badgers highest at No. 6.

“We have a team that has some holes,” Hebert said. “We are a little fragile in some positions and real good at some others. We are probably a top 25 team with the opportunity and ability to pick off a Wisconsin, a Ohio State and a Penn State. The fact that we get most of them at home now is really in our favor.”

Berg, Hagen climb the charts

Berg and Stephanie Hagen, both seniors, continue to make their marks in the Minnesota and Big Ten record books.

Berg sits 10th in the Big Ten for career assists with 5,254. The Gophers’ Sharon Oesterling is the all-time Big Ten leader with 6,024 helpers.

Meanwhile, Berg ranks fourth in Big Ten history with 248 service aces, 72 behind leader Pattijean McCahill of Northwestern who played from 1980-83.

Hagen is also Minnesota’s all-time leader in hitting percentage and has moved into third place on the program’s career total blocks list.

She has 449 blocks during her career. Pam Miller is the all-time leader with 536.

Hagen has also moved into ninth on the Gophers career kills list with 1,190. Hagen leads this year’s team with 176 kills.

Nicole Branagh is the Minnesota and Big Ten career leader in that category with 2,379.