Nora transitions in first season with team

Adrianna Nora has made an impact in limited action this volleyball season.

by Megan Ryan

Adrianna Nora may be a new face on the Gophers volleyball team, but opponents would be wise not to overlook the junior transfer from Baylor.

That’s because the right-side hitter openly admits that when the ball is set to her, she’s aiming her kill directly at an opposing player of her choice.

And with her “heavy arm,” as head coach Hugh McCutcheon calls it, that ball will most likely hurt.

“Sometimes I, of course, have to hold back to keep the ball in play,” Nora said.

Nora has only played in 16 of Minnesota’s 29 sets so far this season and has started two matches.

But Nora had a breakout weekend at the Bluegrass Battle against Louisville and No. 19 Kentucky. She had nine kills and a .615 hitting percentage against the Cardinals and 13 kills against the Wildcats.

The Stillwater, Minn., native’s increased playing time didn’t come easily, though. With many players competing for starting spots, Nora said she has had to face teammates who push her to improve every day.

“At first, it was really frustrating,” Nora said. “Even coming from Baylor to here, the level of play is so different.

“You never know who’s going to play or what is going to happen. It’s so competitive every single day.”

Freshman outside hitter Sarah Wilhite had been playing more than Nora early in the nonconference season. But McCutcheon said Nora’s consistent performance in practice forced coaches to give her more of a look in a match setting.

And she didn’t disappoint.

“I think she’s just finding her rhythm with the setters and feeling a little more confident,” McCutcheon said. “Certainly, that takes time for anyone when you get to a new team.”

Nora also brings some versatility to the Gophers.

While she has primarily been used as a right-side hitter for Minnesota, she played as a left-side hitter and a middle blocker for Baylor and said she can play wherever the team needs her.

“I think right side’s my favorite spot,” Nora said. “It’s a lot easier — not as much moving as middle. It’s more fun for big kills and blocking.”

Senior setter Alexandra Palmer said she has noticed Nora’s affinity for “big kills.”

“She’s really fun to set to,” Palmer said. “She’s a powerful, aggressive, very intense hitter.”