Hannah Tapp adjusting to new position on court

The junior middle blocker is third on the team in blocks so far this season.

Middle blocker Hannah Tapp strikes the ball against Northwestern on Sept. 30, at the Sports Pavilion.

Joe Sulik, Daily File Photo

Middle blocker Hannah Tapp strikes the ball against Northwestern on Sept. 30, at the Sports Pavilion.

by Emily Polglaze

In her third year with the Gophers, junior Hannah Tapp is starting to see things from a new perspective.
Tapp recently made a position switch from blocking on the outside to the middle, a role she’s fit into well since Minnesota’s match against Illinois on Oct. 3.  
“There’s some big differences from the right side to the middle,” Tapp said. “Blocking position and attacking calls I get, set and run — those are the main differences.”
Though Tapp has always been a blocker, she started this season on the right side. 
Tapp began her career with the Gophers in the middle, but as the team tweaked its offensive systems her sophomore year, she took over the right side. 
“We messed around with a 6-2 [rotation] at the end of last year, and she was actually more successful playing on the right,” head coach Hugh McCutcheon said. “I don’t think it’s strange for her to be able to play both positions, and it’s nice that she did it.”
In the 6-2 rotation the Gophers use, there are two middle blockers on the court. Tapp used to play on the right side, with both defensive and offensive responsibilities. In this rotation, the other blocker focuses more on defense. 
As of late, Tapp has moved over to the more defensive middle position where she’s played for most of her volleyball career. 
“She’s really a versatile player, so she’ll be ready to go wherever,” Tapp’s twin sister and fellow middle blocker Paige Tapp said. “It’s just like riding a bike. She’s been a middle her whole life.”
In her last three matches in the middle, Hannah Tapp has had four solo blocks and 13 assisted blocks. 
Only two other players, sophomore Alyssa Goehner and Paige Tapp, have registered any solo blocks in the matches, with both tallying one in last Sunday’s match against Rutgers University. 
Halfway through her junior season, Tapp is registering 0.96 blocks per set, the third-highest rate on the team. 
Last year she was second on the team in blocks with 129 total and 1.26 per set, only coming behind her sister, who’s also the top blocker on the team this year. 
Paige Tapp has welcomed the adjustment, as having her sister next to her in the game brings familiarity and security. 
“There’s two [middle blockers] in the game at all times, so being the other middle with her feels comfortable and natural, because it’s what we’ve always done,” Paige Tapp said. “She’s been doing a great job with it, and she’s there wherever we need her.”
Hannah Tapp is also currently third on the team in kills, but she hopes moving back to the middle will help her expand her game and become more of a defensive threat. 
“I have more opportunities to block the ball … and [I] can block the outside and the right side,” Hannah Tapp said. “In terms of hitting I have about the same [opportunities].” 
Despite her success at both positions, Hannah Tapp said being versatile isn’t just important to her. It’s something the entire team values.
“At the end of the day it’s just volleyball,” Hannah Tapp said. “Going with the fundamental skills we know, everyone on the court can probably [play] a majority of the positions. Wherever the team needs you that day, it’s nice to jump in there.”