Rollercoaster journey takes Pittman to Minnesota

Sophomore Regan Pittman went from hating volleyball to becoming a rising star with the Gophers.

Redshirt Sophomore Regan Pittman plays during the Gopher game against Purdue on Wednesday, Sept. 11th, 2017 at the Maturi Pavilion.

Jack Rodgers

Redshirt Sophomore Regan Pittman plays during the Gopher game against Purdue on Wednesday, Sept. 11th, 2017 at the Maturi Pavilion.

David Mullen

Regan Pittman, a rising star on the Gophers’ volleyball team, “hated” volleyball while growing up in Spring Hill, Kansas.

But as time went on, she discovered she had a talent for the game. This, she said, played a huge factor in her decision to continue playing.

“I learned I was really good and could hit the ball hard, so I just wanted to keep hitting the ball hard,” Pittman said.

Another factor was understanding her appreciation for team sports, rather than individual sports, such as track and field, Pittman said. 

“I learned to love team sports in high school,” Pittman said. “If things aren’t going right then you all have to work together to change it.”

After discovering a love for team sports and a talent in volleyball, Pittman decided to continue her academics and volleyball career at the University of Minnesota. Pittman shared that it was just the right fit.

“When I came here, I just felt so comfortable and it felt right,” Pittman said. Along with the comfort the University gave her, it also had a lot of qualities Pittman loved. “It’s also a really good school, really great coaches and a great athletic program.”

An added bonus of coming to the University was its proximity to her brother, Austin, who, Pittman said, lives in Mankato. 

“Knowing that my brother is not that far away was nice,” Pittman said. “If I needed to get away for a day, there was always an option.”

Pittman joined the Gophers for the 2016-2017 season but was redshirted. She first saw the court in 2017, playing 33 out of 34 matches last season.

During her redshirt freshman season, Pittman played in all but one set. She said getting playing time helped her grow.

“It was huge playing a lot last year,” Pittman said. “It allows you to expand your range of hitting or getting better at blocking.”

So far this season, Pittman averaged 11.6 points and 3.85 blocks through seven matches. She was also named MVP of the Diet Coke Classic tournament held at Maturi Pavillion from Aug. 31 to Sept. 1.

Head coach Hugh McCutcheon says her level in play has changed drastically.

“I think there’s been a big shift in her performance from a year ago,” McCutcheon said. “She’s becoming a huge force at that net, and that’s what we’ve hoped for all along.”

Pittman credits the culture of the Gophers program for this progress, as well as understanding her role on the team.

“I’m just being good, being a good volleyball player, but I couldn’t have done it without every one of my teammates,” Pittman said. “It’s also the culture to want to fight and win, and that’s what we do.”

Sophomore opposite hitter Stephanie Samedy said Pittman brings a unique aspect to the Gophers’ culture.

“The energy that she brings to the team is a big bonus,” Samedy said. “It really adds to our culture and knowing she has our back and we have her, just having that chemistry is pretty awesome.”

Although the end of the year is far away, Pittman said she only has one goal.

“My personal goal is to win a national championship. Stats are important as in winning a point, but we want it, we want to win,” Pittman said.