U’s Busse, OSU’s Gordon set for Saturday matchup

Jeff Barthel

Numbers don’t lie, and when it comes to Big Ten volleyball statistics, two top-notch talents will meet this weekend at the Sports Pavilion.

Minnesota’s Cassie Busse and Ohio State’s Stacey Gordon will duke it out Saturday in a match that could decide whether the Gophers repeat as Big Ten champions.

Busse has come along way since her high school days, in which she only had five or six classmates and was forced to play volleyball.

“I went to a very small high school, and they required us to play volleyball,” Busse said.

After graduating from Prior Lake Christian High School, Busse exploded onto the scene to become an All-American opposite hitter for Minnesota’s 19th-ranked volleyball team (21-9, 14-4 Big Ten).

Playing Ohio State (10-16, 4-14) this weekend, the Gophers will face Gordon, a junior standout and the 2002 Big Ten Player of the Year.

Gordon grew up in Canada, hailing from Oshawa, Ontario.

Although the two players grew up in different countries, they play the same sport and play it well.

Busse said Gordon is the best player in the conference.

“Her serving, blocking, her defense and just her overall play,” Busse said. “She gets double-blocked and still manages to do the things she does.”

They play similar frontcourt positions, are tremendous physical specimens and lead their respective teams in kills.

Busse, a 6-foot-2-inch player, has knocked down 488 kills through her team’s 30 matches this season.

The 5-foot-10-inch Gordon has compiled 687 kills in Ohio State’s 34 matches this season.

Gordon has led her team in kills every year she’s played. She had 513 kills in 2001, earning her the American Volleyball Coaches Association Freshman of the Year honor.

Gordon has a sizeable lead in the Big Ten kill department this season. Her total (687) puts her 190 kills above Michigan State’s Kim Schram (497). Busse ranks third in the conference with 488 kills.

Gordon, who has 1,545 kill attempts, has committed 260 errors this season. Conversely, Busse has only committed 153 errors.

These mistakes help place Busse ahead of Gordon in hitting percentage. Busse leads her team with a .309 mark.

Despite her errors, Gordon leads the Buckeyes with a .276 hitting percentage. She also leads her team with 42 service aces and 370 digs – an uncommon feat for a frontcourt player.

Busse leads the Gophers with 49 aces. She’s currently tied with Wisconsin’s Sheila Shaw for tops in the Big Ten.

Busse has also scrounged up 239 digs, ranking third on the team behind junior libero Paula Gentil and setter Lindsey Taatjes.

“We all are amazed of her,” Minnesota outside hitter Erin Martin said of Busse. “She goes out there every game, gets double-teamed and plays through those things very well.”

Martin, a junior with 361 kills this season, will likely take over as the go-to player in kills for Minnesota next year.