Versatility on the court helps Minnesota succeed

Players have added new responsibilities and roles so far this season for the team.

by Emily Polglaze

The Gophers haven’t relied on just one area of their game to move atop the Big Ten standings.
 
Minnesota has edged its opponents in different ways through 22 matches, with players taking on new responsibilities and roles. 
 
“I think that we try to do as well as we can in every aspect,” freshman Samantha Seliger-Swenson said. “It’s important to focus on those small details of the game because it makes the individual better, which makes the team better.”
 
One aspect of the game that’s improved for different players on the team is blocking, though Minnesota averaged 2.9 blocks per set last season and is at 2.8 blocks per set so far this year. 
 
Sophomore outside hitter Alyssa Goehner, one of the smallest members of the team, has 30 total blocks thus far compared to 14 as a freshman. 
 
Junior middle blocker Paige Tapp is currently fourth in the Big Ten in blocks per set with 1.28 and has already matched her solo block total from last year with 13. 
 
Head coach Hugh McCutcheon said he’s also seen improvement from senior captain and outside hitter Daly Santana with blocking. 
 
The Gophers have out-blocked their opponent in 16 of 22 matches this season. 
 
“Everyone has to block; it’s part of the package and part of the job description,” McCutcheon said. “It’s just nice that everyone’s doing all the things they need to do to help us win the next point.”
 
The team also has a variety of players adding points from different positions on the attack.
 
Seliger-Swenson, a setter who is normally responsible for assisting the third hit of the play, currently has 30 kills. 
 
Junior Katie Schau had 20 kills last year as the team’s primary setter.  
 
Sophomore middle blocker Molly Lohman has also improved on the attack, nearly tripling her total kills from last year from 37 to 109. 
 
The Gophers have seen a lot of players contribute serving and receiving as well. 
 
Sophomore libero Dalianliz Rosado led the team’s defense last year with 2.74 digs per set and 296 total.
 
She has 351 so far this season and is averaging 4.33 per set. 
 
Rosado has also had extra assistance this year from the normally more offensive Santana. 
 
Santana is registering 2.81 digs per set, improving from her 2.29 mark as a junior. 
 
The team’s approach in practice at each position helps it build versatility when it comes time for matches. 
 
“One of Hugh’s main things is to have players play the whole game,” Lohman said. “He wants everyone to do every skill, regardless of position … if one person’s not in it, we
have a second option no matter what.”