DI-AA opponent takes U spikers to the brink in loss

Brian Hall

Using a mixed lineup due to injuries and facing a Division I-AA opponent, Minnesota’s volleyball team narrowly defeated the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay in five games (30-20, 28-30, 30-21, 28-30, 15-13) in action Monday night at the Sports Pavilion.

“It was an unusual match to say the least,” coach Mike Hebert said. “We came in not knowing much about Green Bay. We had to use lineups we hadn’t used before because of the absence of Tilson and Axel, two of our primary passers.”

Senior Kathy Tilson and junior Lisa Axel did not dress due to injuries. Tilson is suffering from back spasms while Axel has a sprained right wrist.

The Gophers (14-9, 7-7 Big Ten) hit .298 while holding the Phoenix to a .196 hitting percentage.

Senior Stephanie Hagen had a solid night compiling a career-high 24 kills with only three errors in a season-high 47 attempts. She also contributed seven blocks and tied a career-high in digs with 17.

“It was a little longer match than we had planned for,” Hagen said. “You can look at it positively that at the end we did play well. Some games we have played bad near the end.”

“It’s a win,” added setter Lindsey Berg.

Minnesota jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the first game, but the Phoenix showed they were not going to go away as they closed the Gophers lead to two at 19-17. But Minnesota finished strong with a 12-3 run to take the first game.

“I think the Green Bay team sensed that we were not going to be as lethal an opponent as they anticipated and it really got them excited,” Hebert said.

The Phoenix made runs at the end of games two and four to reward themselves with wins. They finished on a 7-2 run to take game two and a 6-2 run to earn the game four win.

The Gophers regrouped to take five of the last seven points in the fifth game to earn the victory.

“We did some really cool things at the end that solidified the win,” Hebert said. “We’re awfully relieved to get out of that. We were supposed to win and it’s a ‘W.'”

Minnesota hosts Iowa (4-18, 2-12) at the Pavilion on Wednesday night.

Team drops from poll

Minnesota dropped out of the most recent AVCA/USA Today poll. Formerly No. 24, the Gophers broke a school-record streak appearing in 35 consecutive polls.

In the preseason poll Minnesota was ranked 15th, its highest position of the season.

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