Freshman duo shares back row

Dalianliz Rosado and Alyssa Goehner have played in every match so far.

Rachel Timmerman

Freshmen have brought new life to Minnesota this season.

The Gophers are a young team this year with only three upperclassmen. The younger players have had to step up, taking on large responsibilities in the process.

Freshmen Alyssa Goehner and Dalianliz Rosado have taken those responsibilities in stride.

Rosado said she enjoys the task because she likes challenges, and Goehner said she feels the role gives her a sense of leadership.

“I consider myself as more of a leader, so being in the back row, it’s a way for me to control a lot of things,” Goehner said.

The two have rotated between playing libero and defensive specialist throughout the season.

Head coach Hugh McCutcheon said he chooses who plays libero and defensive specialist based on who can help the serve receive more. Currently, Goehner claims the libero starting spot.

“Alyssa, from day one, was the best passer in the gym,” McCutcheon said. “She’s earned that spot.”

But he said Rosado has been a great help in the back row as a defensive specialist.

On the court, the two freshmen often play right next to each other in the back row.

And their closeness continues off the court.

“We spend a lot of time together,” Rosado said. “We are roommates, we have a class together and we walk to that class together.”

Goehner said they “clicked from right off the bat” and they get along well because they are alike.

“Even though she’s from Puerto Rico, we’re similar in a lot of ways,” Goehner said. “Even part of our game is really similar — we both read well; sometimes we’ll end up making the same read and we’ll be in the same spot.”

Playing the same position can result in a close bond but also a bit of competition.

But the competition is healthy, McCutcheon said.

“The rivalry is not in any way antagonistic,” McCutcheon said. “I think they’re trying to push each other knowing they’ll help the team.”

Rosado said they hold each other accountable in practice so they can improve.

“They push each other, [but] they also support each other,” McCutcheon said. “They’re working well together.”

As for the high responsibility for the freshmen, McCutcheon said it bodes well for the future.

“We’re fortunate to have two very talented back-row players on our squad,” McCutcheon said. “We’re going to have some backcourt control for a lot of years.”