Gophers make pussycats of Panthers

Brian Stensaas

Why stop a good thing?
Showing no signs of letting up on a 7-0 start to the 2000 season, the Minnesota volleyball team did away with Northern Iowa Wednesday night in three games, 15-10, 15-9, 15-6.
“We adjusted very well to their offense,” Minnesota coach Mike Hebert said. “We had a very balanced offense tonight.”
Played at the Century High School Gym in Rochester, Minn., exactly halfway between Cedar Falls, Iowa, and Minneapolis, the Panthers looked like they should stay in the high school gym and play at the adolescent level.
As a team, Northern Iowa hit .119 and committed 24 errors compared to Minnesota’s .355 attack to just 11 errors. Four Panthers players finished the match in negative numbers, committing more errors than points scored.
Volleyball hitting percentage is most closely compared to baseball’s batting average.
With the convincing win, the Gophers continue to lead the Big Ten in total team hitting percentage at .325, the only team above .300 in the conference.
The Panthers, who defeated Minnesota last year, were faced with injury as well as insult.
Adding to Northern Iowa’s woes was outside hitter Kim Kester, who was taken out of the match with an ankle injury in the second game. Last year Kester averaged nearly three kills per game for the Panthers.
The script for how the match was won by the Gophers included the contributions from full cast.
Once again, Minnesota’s middle attack of Stephanie Hagen and Charnette Fair was in full effect. Hagen led the team with 14 kills and added five digs and a service ace while Fair finished with 11 kills.
Lisa Aschenbrenner was in top form, punching out 11 digs and Lindsey Berg completed the match with 40 assists. Hebert also noted, as has been the case all season long, Yvonne Van Oort specialized in team passing.
The script for the 2000 campaign also calls for solid contributions from freshmen, and Wednesday was no exception.
Erin Lorenzen, Cassie Busse and Kelli Wicks all saw playing time in Rochester and had a hand in the win. Most notable was Lorenzen, who finished with a pair of both kills and assists.
On the net, the Gophers had a 12-7 advantage in total blocks, a vast improvement after being outmatched 25-8 in last year’s affair.
With the Rochester monkey off the Gophers back, all focus shifts to the Sports Pavilion for the first time this season. The Gophers play host to the four team round robin Diet Coke Classic beginning Friday night.
Tennessee, Seton Hall, and Akron will all make the trip to Minneapolis for the tournament.
Minnesota begins Big Ten play at home on September 22 against Purdue.

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