Baxter done with volleyball, team on road

Minnesota volleyball coach Mike Hebert said Tuesday that junior Heather Baxter has left the team.
Hebert said he learned of Baxter’s exit through women’s associate athletics director Donna Olson prior to the Nov. 12 match against Purdue.
She appeared in 18 of the Gophers 106 games as a middle hitter, averaging 0.78 kills a game.
When contacted Tuesday night, Baxter said she “didn’t quit” the team and didn’t want to comment any further on the situation.
Hebert said the news of Baxter’s comment on the situation was “not the information” he has.
At practice earlier Tuesday, Hebert originally commented on her “resignation,” stating it was because of injury. He said Baxter had been suffering from a shoulder injury and decided to resign from the team.
“She was medically cleared to play,” Hebert said. “But she didn’t feel she wanted to continue.”
Olson could not be reached Tuesday night for comment.

Big Ten season coming to close
Minnesota’s volleyball team will use the final regular season weekend for two things.
First, as a final preparation for the upcoming NCAA tournament.
Second, as a way to convince the tournament selection committee the No. 20 Gophers are worthy of hosting the first and second rounds of the tourney.
Minnesota (24-7, 14-4 in Big Ten) won’t get a long break for Thanksgiving — they will hit the road to face off against Illinois and Indiana this weekend.
Hebert said a sweep or split over the two teams should give the Gophers a shot at home-floor advantage for the first round of the NCAA tournament.
“That is what I think,” Hebert said. “But I have been way off before.”
Hebert said regardless of where the matches are held, Minnesota will be pumped. But he added that hosting will give the Gophers an advantage in preparation for the matches.
“You can sleep in your own bed and eat in the places you normally eat,” he said. “There is a lot benefit to continuing the same routines that will keep you in your comfort zone.”
The fact the Gophers might still need to win to host, means Minnesota will certainly not be looking past this weekend’s matches.
“We’re not looking ahead to the tournament at all,” Hebert said. “We’re looking forward to playing well this weekend and capping off a great Big Ten season.”
The Gophers travel to Illinois (15-9, 11-7) on Friday to seek revenge against an Illini team that handed Minnesota a four-game loss at the Sports Pavilion back in October.
“We’re looking to come out and get them a second time,” Branagh said.
After the stop in Illinois, Minnesota will continue on to Indiana to take on the Hoosiers (17-10, 8-10). During the same weekend the Gophers lost to Illinois, Minnesota defeated Indiana in four games.

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