Volleyball named tournament champions in San Diego

by Brian Hall

While Minnesota volleyball coach Mike Hebert continues to tinker with his lineup, one of his new arrivals has helped solidify the outside hitter position.

Senior transfer Kathy Tilson has become a stabilizing force in the No. 14 Gophers attack.

“At this point she is more than I expected she’d be,” Hebert said. “She is anchoring one of our left side hitting positions right now.”

Minnesota went 3-1 over the weekend in the University of San Diego Invitational to run its season record to 6-2.

The Gophers were named tournament champions based on total games won.

Tilson was named to the all-tournament team, along with setter Lindsey Berg and middle blocker Stephanie Hagen.

“Kathy and I have clicked very well, both mentally and her play on the court,” Berg said. “She has a confident presence on the court. She has just been a very stable support for our team, and has been a great addition.”

During the tournament Tilson scored over 20 points twice and recorded double-digit kill totals in three of the four matches.

“Our chemistry is so good,” Tilson said. “I feel comfortable with everybody on the team and on the floor. That just helps me play my best. It is really my teammates.”

On Friday, Minnesota had a strong start to the tournament defeating San Jose State in four games (29-31, 30-27, 30-19, and 30-19) and sweeping Seton Hall (30-9, 30-25, and 30-22).

The Gophers had four players post double figures in kills against the Spartans, and had a .474 hitting percentage to San Jose State’s .226. Minnesota closed the match hitting .640 and .647 in the third and fourth games, respectively.

Saturday opened with a sweep of Brown University (30-17, 30-25, 30-23).

Freshman setter Lindsey Vander Well made her first collegiate start, as Berg sat out the match, and had 37 assists.

Saturday night, San Diego gave Minnesota its second loss of the season – snapping a six-match winning streak – by defeating the Gophers in five games (31-29, 30-28, 30-32, 19-30, 15-13).

Tilson and Hagen each led the Gophers against the Toreros with 23 points and recorded double-doubles. Tilson had a team-high 20 kills, while Berg added 60 assists.

Despite solid offensive numbers the Gophers hit only .211 for the match.

“We broke down in our passing game much more than we had to this point,” Hebert said. “When you don’t pass well, your hitters are up against two blockers, you can’t put the ball away, and you give easy shots for the defense to dig and hammer back at you. The whole game stems from the ability to pass the ball.”

Noel Frohman, who played club ball in Austin, Texas, with Tilson, led San Diego with 23.5 points while posting a double-double with 22 kills and 17 digs.

Hebert once again made a lineup change after the second game of the opening match, taking freshman Erin Lorenzen out, and inserting freshman Erin Martin in at the left side hitting position. Hebert used 13 players on the weekend.

“We wanted to see an awful lot of people play,” Hebert said. “We had an opportunity to do that. We learned a lot about both individual players and some lineups.”

Hebert will continue to work the lineup but feels comfortable with the starters used in the final three matches of the weekend.

“It’s still early and we need to gather some more data,” Hebert said. “But that is the way it looks right now.”

While he continues to pencil different freshmen into the lineup, Hebert knows one thing is certain.

He can write Tilson’s name in ink.