Love knows no bounds in Minnesota

The Canadian brings height and athleticism to the Gophers in her first year on the team.

Aleutian Calabay

Few Gophers athletes come to Minnesota for the warmer temperatures, but freshman outside hitter Tabitha Love did just that when she came from Dauphin, Manitoba to play volleyball for the University of Minnesota. Love attended Dauphin Regional Comprehensive Secondary School where she led her volleyball team to four consecutive Regional Championships and was named team MVP all four of those seasons. Love also played club volleyball for the Selkirk Royals , where she led her team to back-to-back Club National and Provincial Championships in 2007 and 2008. She was named MVP of both championship teams. Dauphin, a city of less than 8,000 people in rural Manitoba , is in the heart of hockey country; even with such an impressive record, Love was not getting much attention outside of her local area. It was in the Volleyball Prospects team in Calgary, Alberta that Love began catching international recognition, including the attention of Gophers head coach Mike Hebert. âÄúTabby could become an All-American very easily,âÄù Hebert said. âÄúShe has the size and athleticism and the skill base to do that. When she gets there is up to her, but I fully expect her to reach that level.âÄù Standing 6 feet 6 inches tall literally gives Love a new level at the net âÄî four inches moreso than her next closest teammate. Hebert said LoveâÄôs height helps her use less effort for each hit, allowing Love to have higher energy in longer lasting matches. It hasnâÄôt taken Love long to become an important part of the offense for the Gophers, who are ranked No. 9 . SheâÄôs one of only two players to have played in all 32 games thus far. Her 2.12 kills per set average is ranked third on the team behind juniors Brook Dieter and Lauren Gibbemeyer. âÄúIâÄôm just trying to work as hard as I can to do what I can,âÄù Love said. âÄúWe all have roles and IâÄôm just trying to find mine, whether itâÄôs small or big right now, IâÄôm just trying to do what I can to help us win a national championship.âÄù Love showed just how vital a role sheâÄôs capable of playing in a dominant performance during the GophersâÄô four-set win over then-ranked No. 12 Iowa State . Love led the team in kills with 18 and was named Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Week. While it may be tough for a freshman to come onto a team with high expectations, Love hasnâÄôt had a problem living up to them. âÄúShe has got a big role on this team,âÄù senior Christine Tan said. âÄúThereâÄôs not a lot of freshman that can handle that. She doesnâÄôt get frustrated much. SheâÄôs growing into that stud role, but right now sheâÄôs a very stable and consistent player and that can only help us.âÄù