Minnesota led by its strong hitters

Tori Dixon and Ashley Wittman have been key for the Gophers.

David Nelson

Minnesota has outmatched its opponents offensively over the last three matches with kill after kill after kill.

The Gophers boasted a .333 hitting percentage and 13.58 kills per set in wins over Northwestern, Purdue and Indiana.

And with seven players on the roster averaging more than one kill per set, Minnesota has a plethora of ways to score.

“It’s nice to have lots of ways you can kill the ball,” head coach Hugh McCutcheon said. “It makes it tough on the opponents when they are setting up their defense.”

Junior outside hitter Adrianna Nora has been a key cog in the offense lately. She’s had 49 kills in her last four matches.

McCutcheon said Nora has smoothed out and become more consistent lately.

“Anytime you come in as a transfer, there’s generally an adjustment period,” he said, “but she’s just gone from strength to strength.”

Her status as the starter is on lock at the moment.

“Right now, there’s nobody better,” McCutcheon said.

With the starting lineup solidified, opposing defenses collected only 12 total team blocks last weekend.

That dominance at the net starts with the senior tandem of Tori Dixon and Ashley Wittman.

“They both have really powerful arm swings,” sophomore outside hitter Karlie Hauer said. “Both of them do a great job of executing.”

And while they make a phenomenal impact on the offense, it’s their leadership on the court that makes the difference.

“It’s great. Ashley has done a lot for this team, and so has Tori,” Hauer said. “Especially this year taking on that leadership role, I think both of them have kind of shined.”

Wittman shined bright last Friday against Purdue, helping her team respond to adversity like a captain should.

“I think Ashley did a great job of taking the lead and saying, ‘Hey, we’re not going back down. We’re not going to lose this game,’” Hauer said.

Wittman and Dixon will need to bring that same type of leadership this weekend, especially Sunday against Nebraska.

The Gophers trail the Cornhuskers by one match in the Big Ten standings. And with Nebraska sweeping Minnesota earlier this season, this marks a match the Gophers will want to win.