Brafford leavesvolleyballprogram

Ben Goessling

Junior middle blocker Bethany Brafford has left Minnesota’s volleyball team for personal reasons, coach Mike Hebert said Tuesday without specifying details.

Brafford left the University and is attending classes at Ashland College, a Division II school near her hometown of Mansfield, Ohio.

“It’s never good to lose a returning senior, and Bethany’s going to be missed,” Hebert said. “But we do have four middle blockers coming back next year, and we’ll deal with it. It’s not the first time something like this has happened.”

Brafford, a preseason all-Big Ten pick, struggled through the worst offensive season of her career in 2002, hitting just .206, down from her average of .353 in her first two campaigns. However, she did rank seventh in the Big Ten in blocks, leading the team with 1.22 per game.

Brafford was a tri-captain this season with junior Erin Lorenzen and sophomore Lindsey Vander Well. Her departure leaves freshman Jessica Byrnes as Minnesota’s only middle blocker who saw action during the 2002 season, as sophomore Maggie Freiborg and freshman Athena Mallakis were both sidelined with ACL injuries.

The Gophers will add recruit Meredith Nelson, the 10th-best high school player in the country according to StudentSports.com, at middle blocker next season.

– Ben Goessling, Staff Reporter

Silkaitis honored

Minnesota sophomore swimmer Terry Silkaitis was named the Big Ten Swimmer of the Week for his performance against Iowa last weekend. It is the first honor of the season for Silkaitis and the fourth for a member of Minnesota’s men’s swimming and diving team.

Silkaitis led the seventh-ranked Gophers to a 195.5-103.5 win over Big Ten rival Iowa last Saturday.

Silkaitis gained individual wins in the 100- and 200-yard freestyle events. Both of his times in the 100 and 200 provisionally qualified him for the NCAA Championships.

Silkaitis was also a member of both the 200 and 400 winning relay teams for the Gophers. He was the last leg in the 200 medley while anchoring the 400 free relay. Silkaitis has the fastest time in the Big Ten in the 100 free (44.12), second fastest in the 50 free (20.45) and third fastest in the 200 free (1:37.24).