Berg questionable for huge road series this weekend

Brian Hall

Heading into the biggest road trip of its season, Minnesota’s volleyball team might be without setter and team leader Lindsey Berg.

Berg sprained her ankle on the last play of Saturday’s match against Illinois.

“It feels much better today,” Berg said. “We have been working on it, icing it two to three times a day. This weekend is pretty important. I am pretty confident I am going to play.”

Berg’s playing status at No. 11 Penn State will be a match-time decision Friday night. The Gophers then play No. 10 Ohio State on Sunday.

In the meantime, Berg is on crutches and is getting treatment everyday. She rode a stationary bike during Tuesday’s practice, watching teammates practice on the court.

Berg has missed only one game in her career due to an ailment.

“I missed one game last year because I was sick,” Berg said. “I have never sprained an ankle before; this is all new to me.”

If Berg is unable to play, the Gophers would turn to a true freshman to replace her.

“If she can’t play then Lindsey Vander Well will be our setter,” coach Mike Hebert said. “She is put together well emotionally. She may be a little nervous but I don’t think she will be taken out of her game, or take us out of ours.

Added Berg: “She is a great setter, probably one of the best backups in the nation. We have been working together all year.”

Minnesota moves up
one spot

Minnesota moved up one spot to No. 20 in the latest USA Today/AVCA Coaches Poll.

“We’re getting better,” Hebert said. “We played our best defensive match of the year Saturday. That was exciting to see. We have been near the top in offense all year. We are still hitting .300. There are some things we are doing well.”

The Gophers (10-4, 4-2 Big Ten) have appeared in a school record 23-consecutive polls.

Big Ten rivals Wisconsin, Ohio State and Penn State are ranked ahead of Minnesota. The Badgers are ranked sixth, followed by the Buckeyes and Lions at 10th and 11th, respectively.

Wisconsin tops in
conference

After three weeks of Big Ten play Wisconsin remains the lone undefeated team in the conference.

Ohio State is currently second with a 5-1 record while three teams – Minnesota, Penn State and Michigan – are 4-2 in conference play.

“I don’t think any team, except for possibly Wisconsin, is capable of running away with the championship,” Hebert said. “With the depth of the teams and the new scoring system I think you will see some upsets.”

In a battle of undefeated teams last Saturday, Wisconsin swept Ohio State.

“Wisconsin seems to be the class of the conference,” Hebert said. “Ohio State and Penn State would be next, followed by a five-team group that I think is very, very even.”

Hebert identified those teams as Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State and Northwestern.

“I believe three of those five teams will head to the NCAA tournament, depending on what happens the rest of the season,” Hebert said. “We are in there fighting for supremacy of the group. But you never know, we could go on the road this weekend, take two, and be fighting for the championship.”

 

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