In the Big Ten opener, Hart stands out

The sophomore had 20 kills in the match against Michigan, tied for a career best.

Outside hitter Alexis Hart pushes the ball past UCLA in the Sports Pavilion on Dec. 10, 2016.

Outside hitter Alexis Hart pushes the ball past UCLA in the Sports Pavilion on Dec. 10, 2016.

by Owen Mageau

In the Gophers’ Big Ten volleyball opener on Friday, their top returner in kills shined.

Outside hitter Alexis Hart led the way for Minnesota with 20 kills in four sets against the No. 20 Michigan Wolverines as the Gophers won 3-1 at Maturi Pavilion on Friday night. 

“That’s what we expect,” said head coach Hugh McCutcheon. “She is a very good volleyball player. She can be dominant and certainly she carried her fair share tonight. No question.”

On the season, Hart has 143 kills and is second in kills per set with 3.18. Hart also has 19 block assists this year. Her 20 kills in the match tied her career-high total.

“She has worked hard and she has got better” McCutcheon said. “I think she is embracing the idea that she has the ability to be a complete volleyball player.”

In her freshman year, she played in all 34 matches. She finished second on the team in kills with 359, kills per set with 2.85 and attempts with 945. Hart’s freshman campaign earned her a freshman All-Big Ten selection. Now, she’s in her sophomore season, and Hart said she’s excited about the first match of the Big Ten season.

This was the first of many Big Ten matches, and Hart knows the competition will be tough the rest of the way. 

“I feel like everyone did pretty well tonight,” Hart said. “I feel like as games go on, Big Ten is always a battle, we have to take it one game at a time.”

Samantha Seliger-Swenson had 51 assists in match, while adding four blocks. When asked about her great performance, Hart was quick to spread the praise to her teammates. 

“[Seliger-Swenson] is an amazing setter and the other girls on the team played pretty good,” Hart said. “I feel like we were really balanced.”

With the Big Ten season opening up, it’s a good time for Hart to be playing her best volleyball. She was asked if her hands hurt from all the kills. 

“No,” Hart said with a laugh.