Goehner rounds out game for Gophers

by Emily Polglaze

Despite being one of the smaller girls on the court, Alyssa Goehner could make a big impact on Minnesota’s back row with her versatility. 
Four matches into her second season, the outside hitter has 24 kills and 33 digs, putting her in good standing offensively and defensively. 
“Wherever I’m needed is fine with me,” Goehner said. “I’d like to make my way to the front row, but in the end, if I’m on the outside, that’s going to be awesome.” 
Goehner’s defensive performance comes as no surprise. 
Spending some time during her rookie season as a libero, Goehner was second on the team in digs with 267, edged out only by fellow freshman Dalianliz Rosado, Minnesota’s current primary libero and defensive specialist. 
“It all starts with our block,” Goehner said. “We have such great blockers on our team, so it’s easier to make reads and make defensive moves.” 
Goehner had 21.5 points in two matches last weekend in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, a performance head coach Hugh McCutcheon was satisfied with. 
“She took some wonderful swings, and that’s kind of what we’ve been waiting for, for her to carry some of that offensive load,” McCutcheon said.
Goehner is in the top four for the Gophers in kills and digs, and her digs per set are similar to her first season.
However, she’s improving on offense. 
“With Alyssa being defensive, she’s always there to cover me,” senior and fellow outside hitter Daly Santana said. “I feel confident going after every ball. She’d be there if I got blocked for anything like that.” 
In addition to helping her teammates with kills, Goehner is also tallying a good amount of her own. 
Her current average of 1.71 kills per set places Goehner  fourth on the team, an improvement from the 0.79 kills per set she finished with in her freshman season. 
Goehner attributes some of her progress to her upperclassman teammates. 
“[Santana will] go ahead of me when we’re hitting, and I watch her feet and her arms,” Goehner said. “It’s incredible watching her hit because she has such an efficient arm swing; that’s definitely something I’m trying to take away from her play.” 
The only disadvantage Goehner seemingly faces at her position is her size. Though not the smallest hitter, she is only one of five Gophers that are less than six feet tall. 
She said it’s been a good and bad learning experience playing at her size. 
“Going into the Big Ten league, it’s tough because the block is bigger,” Goehner said. “But growing up, I learned what to do with different scenarios of blocking, so I don’t think it’s a big problem for me.”
Goehner said there a few other aspects of her game she’d like to improve this season. She’s trying to hit harder and faster off the block for a better range. 
Though he said the remainder of the season would truly demonstrate Goehner’s capability, McCutcheon is confident in her potential thus far.
“I think people have kind of counted her out because she’s a little smaller,” McCutcheon said. “But I think she’s going to do a nice job for us, and I’m excited to see what kind of player she can become.”