Not even three months after wrapping up one of their best seasons in school history, the Gophers volleyball team is already preparing for next season.
Minnesota coach Mike Hebert announced that three players signed with the Gophers on Wednesday. According to Hebert, all three will be an important part of the Gophers’ campaign 2000.
On the top of the list is Bethany Brafford, a middle/opposite hitter from Mansfield, Ohio.
The highly-touted Brafford won two awards for being 1999’s Ohio player of the year.
Hebert said he is excited about the commitment of Brafford and said she will be ready to step on the floor and make an impact next season.
He also admitted scouting her was kind of an accident. While in Ohio watching another player, Hebert and assistant coach Maurice Batie discovered Brafford.
“I went to Maurice, `God, who is that?'” Hebert said. “I saw her just hitting the crap out of the ball.”
Brafford was a player sought by Clemson, Florida State, South Carolina and Alabama. She said she chose Minnesota after making her visit and falling in love with the program, the campus and the recent success of the Gophers team.
“I just clicked when I went there,” Brafford said. “I knew I wanted to be there. We’ll have a good chance to win a whole bunch of games next year.”
Along with Brafford, two Minnesotans will stay at home and play for the Gophers.
Cassie Busse of Prior Lake and Erin Lorenzen of Pipestone are two more front-line players Hebert hopes will improve Minnesota down the line.
Hebert said both Busse and Lorenzen will need some coaching but he sees them developing into strong Big Ten players.
“These too are that type of player: tall and athletic,” Hebert said. “They weren’t as highly recruited as Brafford, but they will both be, at some point in their career, super players for the Gophers.”
As for this year’s class overall, Hebert said he was pleased with the results — even though it might not rank up there with some of the other Big Ten teams.
“Penn State will again come out as clearly the top recruiting class,” Hebert said. “Our situation is much like Glen Mason’s. How are you going to out-recruit Michigan or Notre Dame?
“At this point we cannot out-recruit Penn State as national champs. They are going to get the heavy ink and more polished players.”
John R. Carter welcomes comments at [email protected]