Branagh’s close call spooks U

by Sarah Mitchell

Halloween is just two weeks away, but the Gophers have already been spooked.
Early in game one Friday night, sophomore outside hitter Nicole Branagh fell to the Sports Pavilion court clutching her left thigh in pain. The reason for Branagh’s misery was a pulled hip flexor.
With the Gophers down 4-10 in game one, the ailing Branagh was substituted back in, a move that revitalized the team. Minnesota rattled off seven consecutive points en route to a 15-11 game win.
Branagh recorded four of her five game one kills after returning. By the match’s end, the sophomore recorded 22 kills, her 10th 20-plus kill match of the season.
Hebert said learning to cope with adversity, such as competing without a big-name player, is a downfall of a young team. They lack the experience to overcome adversity.
“Each time a new thing happens to create problems I think a team has to learn how they’re going to adjust or compensate,” Hebert said. “And so you go through a series of compensations as a team and finally you have them all covered. We don’t have them all covered yet.”
Passed out
Like the Gophers on Friday, Indiana lost its best player Saturday. Senior outside hitter Jen Magelssen was not lost to injury, however, but to the effectiveness of Minnesota’s passing game.
“She’s the heart and soul of our team,” Hoosiers coach Katie Weismiller said. “She’s an all-around player. She does some nice things for us defensively and in the passing game.”
The 5-foot-7 player’s strongest skill is her threatening serve. With a jump serve, which Hebert called “the best in the Big Ten,” Magelssen reset the school record for career service aces in 1997 with 160.
Halfway through the season, Magelssen has 21 service aces, two of which came against the Gophers. But the heat served by the Hoosier left some Minnesota players unimpressed.
“In a way, the jump serve is the easiest one,” said sophomore outside Sonja Posthuma. “Normally, if you just stand there and let it bounce off of your arms, it’s easier to bounce to the setter.”
Bumped up
By adding two tallies to the win column this past weekend with 3-0 home sweeps of Northwestern and Indiana, Minnesota coach Mike Hebert earned his 60th and 61st victories as Gophers coach.
“It just means I’m getting older,” said Hebert, who owns a 61-26 record in his third season at Minnesota (14-5 overall, 4-4 in the Big Ten) and a 633-283 record in his 23rd year in the NCAA.
The NCAA recently started compiling a list of the winningest active volleyball coaches. Before the season began, Hebert was 29th on the highest winning percentage list at .690. Stanford coach Don Shaw topped the list at .858 (382-62) in his 14-year career.
Hebert ranked ninth on the all-time wins list heading into the season with .619. UCLA coach Andy Barachowski, who is in his 29th season, led the list with 829 victories.
Among Big Ten coaches, Hebert was tied with Ohio State coach Jim Stone with 209 conference wins. But during the 1998 season Hebert has picked up four wins to Stone’s three, giving the Minnesota coach a one-match edge.
Side Outs
ù After this weekend, Minnesota is tied for fifth in Big Ten standings with Michigan State. Undefeated Penn State remains on top with an 8-0 conference record while five Big Ten teams — Indiana, Ohio State, Northwestern, Michigan, Iowa — claim losing conference records.