Minnesota tinkers with lineup

The Gophers will end nonconference play this weekend in Toledo, Ohio.

by Rachel Timmerman

In the game of volleyball, a starting spot isn’t guaranteed — and the Gophers know that all too well.

Recently, Minnesota has been toying with its starters at libero and setter, switching around the lineup from the beginning of the season.

Sophomore Katie Schau began the season starting at setter, and freshman Dalianliz Rosado was the starting libero.

But recently, sophomore Erica Handley and freshman Alyssa Goehner have occupied those positions, respectively.

“We’re fortunate to have depth,” head coach Hugh McCutcheon said, “and to have a lot of players that can contribute.”

This weekend, Minnesota will travel to Toledo to compete in their final tournament and nonconference matches of the season. But that doesn’t mean the team will have its lineup settled before Big Ten play starts.

“I’ll be surprised if we find a secure lineup this year,” McCutcheon said.

The team is composed of mostly young athletes this year, which comes with a steep learning curve, McCutcheon said.

Goehner said she has learned a lot about the different roles she’ll take on as a first-year player.

“I’ll take any role I can,” Goehner said. “In the end, it’s all about the team.”

Both Goehner and Handley said they can sense a bit of competitiveness in the gym. But Goehner said it’s a good competitiveness.

“We’re all pushing each other to make each other better,” Goehner said.

Handley said the atmosphere pushes her to work harder and to compete in practice every day.

“There’s always been that competitiveness, and that’s why it’s so great,” Handley said. “We want to make each other better all the time.”

With the first conference match against Ohio State fast approaching, McCutcheon said he hopes to see consistency from the team this weekend.

“Most of our success will be on how consistent we can play,” Goehner said.

McCutcheon said many people on the team are contributing at a high level, and as they make improvements throughout the season, there could be a shift in roles.

“I don’t think we’re looking to cement anything,” McCutcheon said. “The best players will be the ones that play.”