Seliger-Swenson continues impact in second season

The sophomore has already been named Big Ten Setter of the Week.

Samantha Seliger-Swenson serves the ball at the Sports Pavilion on Sept. 12, 2015.

Joe Sulik, Daily File Photo

Samantha Seliger-Swenson serves the ball at the Sports Pavilion on Sept. 12, 2015.

Tommy Sletten

Last season, setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson set the Big Ten ablaze and put the nation on notice as a rookie; she was named a Second Team AVCA All-American.

She shows no sign of holding back in her sophomore campaign. Three weeks in a row she has been named Big Ten Setter of the Week and was tabbed the MVP of last weekend’s home Diet Coke Classic.

“She keeps getting better,” head coach Hugh McCutcheon said. “The rhythm and the tempo of the offense, I think she has a better feel for that. [She’s] the whole package.”

In high school, Seliger-Swenson, a Minnetonka native, was coached by her mother, Vicki — a former volleyball player at Iowa State. Her father Erik was also a college athlete and played football at North Dakota.

The connection of athletics in her family gave all of them, her siblings included, something to bond over.

Seliger-Swenson always wanted to play for Minnesota, and frequently attended matches at the Sports Pavilion with her family when she was younger, hoping to someday have the opportunity herself — she grew up to do just that.

Her career at Hopkins High School was peppered with accolades: A three-time All-American, the Star Tribune’s metro player of the year, and PrepVolleyball.com’s No. 8 recruit in the nation.

Now in her second year with the No. 2 Gophers, Seliger-Swenson credits her success to her teammates.

“Team chemistry is really important, especially if you want to be the best team you can be,” Seliger-Swenson said. “You have to have that chemistry and that rhythm. We all have a common vision and common goal, and that’s something we can all bond over.”

As a setter, Seliger-Swenson must gel with her teammates, as she is responsible for setting up kills and actively passing on every point.

Having a calm, cool, collected setter is crucial for any quality team, especially when things go awry.

“Her ability to create, especially at the net, even when the pass is a bit squirrely, she’s able to still get a hittable ball out of that and it makes a big difference for us,” McCutcheon said.

Seliger-Swenson is leading the Gophers in assists this season with 394. She is also second on the squad in service aces with eight, trailing only senior outside hitter, Sarah Wilhite, with nine.

McCutcheon gives her credit for changing the small things in her serving and diversifying her game as a whole in the offseason.

Seliger-Swenson has already had plenty of success at Minnesota, including a Final Four appearance, but she and her teammates know a long road is ahead this year to chase a championship again.

“The goal right now is to give it our best and see what happens the rest of the season,” Seliger-Swenson said.