Hebert tells volleyball that the sword is mightier

Jeff Barthel

Minnesota’s defending Big Ten champion volleyball team (17-9, 10-4 Big Ten) is looking to cut down on errors and play more consistently.

The Gophers are wrestling to take a more aggressive mental approach.

“Coach talks about playing with a sword instead of a shield,” senior captain Erin Lorenzen said. “Playing to win and not playing not to lose Ö going after people more.”

The team played with swords against the Illini.

However, the Gophers either left their swords at home or defended with just a shield when they played against Northwestern a day later.

“The next night we just got our fannies handed to us,” Hebert said. “I thought we looked drained, both physically and emotionally.”

Perhaps the weariness has made an impact on Minnesota’s hitting capabilities. One of the few statistical categories in which the Gophers rank low is hitting percentage. Minnesota is seventh of the 11 Big Ten teams, hitting at .236.

Nonetheless, hitting percentage is a task the Gophers have not done particularly well.

Last year’s team hit just .245.

The nine-point swing from a year ago is one of the reasons the Gophers are trailing Penn State (22-4, 11-3) for the reins of Big Ten glory.

Minnesota had a .222 hitting percentage after 13 matches – ending with a loss to Indiana (Sept. 26).

In the 13 matches since then, Minnesota has hit at a .261 clip.

Gophers captain Cassie Busse, whose .304 hitting percentage is a distant first on the team, has some lingering memories of those early-season losses.

“(In the Indiana and Purdue losses) there was stuff we want to improve upon and make sure that it doesn’t happen again,” she said.