Three Gophers players return from China tour

Emily Polglaze

For a few weeks, Minnesota volleyball players Hannah Tapp, Sarah Wilhite and Molly Lohman traded in the confines of the Sports Pavilion for the courts of China. 
 
The three are part of a group of five players from the Gophers volleyball team to participate in foreign tours this summer.
 
“It was a great experience and opportunity,” Tapp, a junior middle blocker, said. “To have Sarah and Molly there, it was really fun.” 
 
The trio competed with the USA Volleyball Collegiate Team for their China tour from June 13-26. 
 
“There was a tryout in February in Colorado Springs, and we sent a lot of people from [the University of Minnesota] there,” Wilhite, a junior outside hitter, said. “Each day you’re narrowed down to a certain court, and then they decide the teams that go on the different tours.”
 
Wilhite and Tapp were named to the China tour team in April after the tryout in Colorado, but sophomore middle blocker Lohman was a late addition. 
 
Lohman was originally supposed to play in the USA Volleyball Girls’ National Championships in New Orleans, but the unexpected phone call changed her plans. 
 
“I found two days before I left that I was going to go,” Lohman said. “It was pretty nerve-wracking, but I was just excited to be there and to play in a different country.” 
 
Wilhite said initially there was a learning curve in team chemistry, but there was improvement after a few practices.
 
The three were joined by nine other players on the team, but it was a good opportunity for the Gophers teammates to bond abroad. 
 
“We’ve all learned the same principles here, so we can hold each other accountable on the court,” Tapp said. “And it was also really fun because we get along really well.”
 
The team played a variety of opponents overseas and had to adjust to a different style of play from their opponents.
 
During the tour, Tapp said the major differences between the Chinese and American teams were a much faster game pace and creative ball control.
 
Off the court, the three enjoyed some sightseeing in Beijing, including a visit to the Great Wall of China. 
 
Along with the players on the China tour, the Gophers also have two more representatives playing overseas.
 
Alyssa Goehner spent two weeks on the inaugural Big Ten Foreign Tour, playing matches in Croatia, Slovenia and Italy.
 
Like Lohman, Goehner was originally supposed to compete with the national team in New Orleans, but she opted for the European excursion instead. 
 
Paige Tapp, Hannah’s twin sister, was named to USA Volleyball’s World University Team in March and is playing at the 2015 World University Games in Gwangju, South Korea, until July 12
 
Now, most of the team’s players are through traveling overseas for the summer, and they’re beginning to focus in on their upcoming season back at home. 
 
“We’re striving for a lot of things; it’s a list,” Wilhite said. “But the big one is finishing top three in the Big Ten.”