Spikers win at Iowa, Hebert notches 700th victory

Brian Hall

IOWA CITY, Iowa – After missing an opportunity 11 days ago against San Diego, Minnesota volleyball coach Mike Hebert finally joined an exclusive Division I fraternity.

Hebert earned his 700th victory as the No. 17 Gophers swept Iowa (30-24, 30-28, 30-22) on Wednesday night at Carver-Hawkeye arena to open the Big Ten season and run their record to 7-2.

Minnesota has now won 12-straight matches over the Hawkeyes.

Hebert became only the sixth active coach to reach the 700-win plateau. The list includes all-time wins leader Andy Banachowski of UCLA with 903 wins.

“It is meaningful because it measures and reflects long-term success,” Hebert said. “To know that you can do it over a long period of time is great. Not many people get the chance to do that.”

Hebert’s players took to the court Wednesday night wearing the American flag on their left sleeve, and knowing they must stop preseason All-Big Ten selection Sara Meyermann.

The effort was, for the most part, futile.

Meyermann’s 25 kills set a record for kills by a Gophers opponent in a three-game match. The other Hawkeyes set-up Meyermann any chance they could as she totaled 53 attempts.

“Meyermann shredded us,” Hebert said. “She is a great player. But I don’t think we played well defensively. We have a lot of work to do on defense.”

While the Gophers were unable to stop Meyermann early, adjustments were made to halt her production during the final game of the match.

Meyermann recorded 24 kills in the first two games, yet had only one in the final game.

Minnesota, first in the conference in hitting percentage and second in service aces, continued its hot hitting and serving. The Gophers hit .417 for the game and .340 for the match and improved on its service game with four aces in each game.

Sophomore Cassie Busse led the team in the offense with seven kills as she hit .778 in the first game and totaled 16.5 points.

“I was just watching where the blockers were going,” Busse said. “My teammates and coaches were telling me where I could go with the ball, so I just listened to them.”

The second game of the evening looked to be all Iowa. They Hawkeyes jumped out to a 3-0 lead and pushed the lead to as many as seven.

Minnesota made a run late and pulled the score within one at 25-24 on a kill by sophomore Bethany Brafford before a Hawkeye timeout.

After the timeout Minnesota looked renewed.

A long rally ending with an Amanda Cipperly kill gave Minnesota its first lead at 26-25. The Gophers pulled it out at the end, with Brafford and Kathy Tilson combining for a block on Meyermann. The 30-28 win was Minnesota’s biggest lead of the game.

“We really come together as a team in that situation,” Busse said. “We don’t play for ourselves, we play for each other and the team.”

Replacing outside hitter Erin Martin in the lineup, the freshman Cipperly saw her first extensive action of the season and responded with seven kills.

“My legs were real shaky,” Cipperly said. “They felt like Jell-o. But, the more I played the better I felt. I just want to come in and make the play and fire the team up when they need me.”

Cipperly was in the spotlight again as she received a start in the third game. Minnesota led throughout the game. Iowa called two timeouts within an 18-2 Gophers run but was unable to stop Minnesota’s cruise to an easy victory in the evening’s final tilt.

“Martin had made too many errors,” Hebert said. “Cipperly came in and did a great job. She made a solid contribution and was one of the reasons we won.”

The Gophers travel to Purdue on Saturday and Hebert will be looking for another win to add to his impressive collection.

“I guess 700 wins does one thing,” Hebert said. “Now I don’t have to answer those questions anymore.”

At least not until the number 800 rolls around.

 

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