Busse becoming vital part of spikers’ attack

by Brian Hall

Two years ago, she was leading Prior Lake to the Minnesota State Christian High School Volleyball Championship.

Then, playing on the Northern Lights Volleyball Club for 18 year-olds, she was a second stringer.

Last year, as a freshman at Minnesota, she played in only 32 games as the team advanced to the regional semifinal of the NCAA tournament.

Now a sophomore, Cassie Busse is an integral member of the No. 21 Gophers.

“For her to come from there, to being a starter on an elite Division I team is quite a story,” Minnesota coach Mike Hebert said.

Busse’s development into a starter began during her two years playing club ball.

“From high school to club level there was a lot of learning,” Busse said. “I had to learn what every position was, switching of the positions and everything. It was a completely different game, it was more competitive.

“Here, it is even more competitive and fast paced. I had to quicken my mind to follow it.”

A quick study, Busse has already surpassed her games played from last season, playing in 40 of the 41 Gophers games thus far.

Appearing as a starter, Busse has amassed 128 kills on the year, one behind senior team leaders Stephanie Hagen and Kathy Tilson. She is averaging 3.2 kills per game while hitting .292.

“She will always dominate as a hitter and a blocker because of her size and her hands,” Hebert said. “If she continues to progress at the rate she is going now, by her junior or perhaps senior year, I think she may be an all-conference player at the least.”

During her time with the Northern Lights club team, she was coached by the late Maurice Batie, a Minnesota assistant coach who died in March of 2000. Busse credits Batie as being one of the major influences on her playing career.

Her relationship with Batie gave Minnesota the inside track to recruiting Busse. At the time, Busse had never imagined playing at the University.

“I had no clue at all,” Busse said. “Even when I was in club, I didn’t think I was going to play Division I. When they offered me the scholarship I said, `Are you kidding me?'”

Busse began playing volleyball when she was in sixth grade. Prior Lake is a first through 12th grade school and the volleyball team consisted of the top talent the school had to offer, including two of Busse’s sisters.

“We had anywhere from sixth graders to 12th graders on the team,” Busse said. “It was just the best of the bunch.”

With a high school graduating class of seven people, Busse has had to adapt to the size of the University and playing in a large arena.

“I think she was kind of blown away at first,” Hebert said. “But she coped very well, and has fit in very nicely.”

During recruiting, Batie and Hebert were first attracted to the 6-foot-2 Busse’s size.

“She, physically, is tailor made for volleyball,” Hebert said. “She is big and strong. She has wide shoulders, she has the whole deal in terms of having the right physical attributes. All she lacks is the experience at this level.

“We looked at her as a project. She is becoming a project that is working out.”


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