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Interim President Jeff Ettinger inside Morrill Hall on Sept. 20, 2023. Ettinger gets deep with the Daily: “It’s bittersweet.”
Ettinger reflects on his presidency
Published April 22, 2024

Minnesota seniors make senior night special with play instead of ceremony

There was an unusual number of dry eyes among Minnesota’s volleyball team’s seniors during the team’s annual senior night Saturday.

Even after the match, when each senior was flagged by at least one member of their family for a rose ceremony, the teammates’ collective expressions didn’t yield many tears.

“Sometimes, the emotion of the senior night can affect the quality of play in the match,” coach Mike Hebert said. “Our team did not let that happen tonight.”

Instead of the usual sentimental affair, the six seniors spent their night dismantling Indiana and showing the rest of the team why they will be sorely missed next season.

When Minnesota began the first game playing inconsistently, setter Lindsey Taatjes became the first senior to lift the team.

Taatjes stepped behind the service line with the Gophers up 12-11 and promptly served the next 10 Minnesota points.

“I was just trying to not serve out of bounds, because the last two games haven’t been too good for my serving,” Taatjes said. “I was just trying to keep it tough on them defensively and keep them out of their offensive rhythm.”

Taatjes did just that, and senior outside hitter Erin Martin took the cue from her teammate and converted the last five of those 10 points for kills.

Martin and fellow senior outside hitter Trisha Bratford once again led the offense this weekend, combining for 30 kills and a .377 hitting percentage.

But another senior outside hitter, Amanda Hokenson, also helped lift the team – especially in the third and final game.

Hokenson, who has seen limited time behind Martin and Bratford, had four kills, which were second only to Martin in the final game. And it was Hokenson who finished the night with a kill on match point.

“It was awesome being in there the whole game and getting to experience that part,” Hokenson said. “I hadn’t really experienced it since my freshman year, and it was just a great high.”

In return, Hokenson, Martin and Bratford could have attributed their success to the passing of senior Lisa Reinhart and the rest of the Minnesota defense or to the six service aces the Minnesota seniors tallied.

Reinhart had one, Taatjes had two and serving specialist Jen Bowman tallied a season-high three aces.

But with all of their contributions and a special ceremony with their families, none of these seniors were ready to get too emotional.

That’s because, for a class that has led Minnesota to national prominence and its first Final Four, there is too much unfinished business.

“We’re still expecting to have a lot of season left,” Hokenson said. “We have high expectations for our team. We still haven’t reached our potential yet, and I think we’re just really excited to see how good we can get.”

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