Hawaii native sets Gophers’ on-court goals

When Lindsey Berg decided to leave the warmth of Hawaii and travel to Minnesota to play volleyball for the Gophers, she received more than just praise from her family and friends.
“Everyone gave me a winter jacket the year before I was coming,” Berg said. “I have 10 winter jackets.”
So why would she leave Hawaii for the cold Midwest?
Berg said coach Mike Hebert, the program at the University and the tremendous support of women’s athletics hooked her on Minnesota.
“I really enjoyed the team when I came on my visit,” she said. “It’s just great support.”
Berg is now in her sophomore season at Minnesota and is loving every minute in the new big-city environment.
“It is a whole different lifestyle,” she said. “There are so many more people around. I’m used to seeing the same people in Hawaii and I don’t even see the same people in a day going to class.”
Last year Berg played in 30 of Minnesota’s 31 matches. She led the Gophers with 1,380 assists, good for the second-best effort of all time for a Gophers freshman.
This season Berg has already added 474 assists to her career mark, and is now fifth on Minnesota’s all-time list. She is currently seventh in the Big Ten, averaging just under 12 assists a game.
Hebert credits Berg with being a leader on the floor. He compares her play on the court to that of a quarterback in the huddle of a football game.
Hebert said the team can count on Berg to motivate them after an error or an opponent’s point.
“She is usually the one that is at the center of the reconnecting and the revitalization plan that is about to be set forth,” Hebert said. “She is a leader.”
Teammate Nicole Branagh echoed Hebert’s thoughts on team leadership. Branagh said Berg adds great enthusiasm to the Gophers.
“She is always firing people up on the court,” Branagh said. “She is a leader on the floor.”
All that tight play on the court has led to a friendship off the court as well.
“She is a good friend on and off the court,” Branagh said. “I have a lot of respect for her.”
Berg’s success did not begin at Minnesota, however. In high school she was a three-time Hawaii co-player of the year at Punahoa High School. In 1996 she led her team to the Hawaii State Tournament title with a 37-0 record.
Hebert has been impressed with the way Berg has adjusted to college volleyball and has stepped up the play in the past two years with the Gophers.
“I think she has improved, not so much physically or technically, but in terms of her maturity and her ability to control a match from an offensive standpoint,” Hebert said.
Hebert also said Berg’s offense is a key to the Gophers success.
“She is like a coach on the floor when it comes to offense,” he said. “She really understands how to play offense in this sport.
Although Berg survived last winter, her teammates warned her that last year wasn’t that bad and she should be prepared for worse weather this year.
“I’m scared,” she said. “I think it is just going to be awful this year.”

John R. Carter covers volleyball and welcomes comments at [email protected]