Harms’ new serve, hitting powers Gophers past Wolverines

Senior Katherine Harms debuted a new serve against Michigan, recording three aces and 20 kills in a 3-1 win against the unranked Wolverines.

Minnesota outside hitter Katherine Harms spikes against Michigan on Wednesday at the Sports Pavilion. Harms had a match-high 20 kills as the Gophers won 3-1.

Anthony Kwan

Minnesota outside hitter Katherine Harms spikes against Michigan on Wednesday at the Sports Pavilion. Harms had a match-high 20 kills as the Gophers won 3-1.

Megan Ryan

Senior outside hitter Katherine Harms debuted her jump serve in the Gophers’ 3-1 win against Michigan at the Sports Pavilion on Wednesday.

She tallied a team-high three aces — not to mention also leading her team with 20 kills.

“We always look at ways to just try to do things differently,” Harms said. “I started jump serving, and I decided I really like it, and I’m going to stick with it.”

Harms said she began working on the skill, an upgrade from her simple overhand serve, around last weekend’s Penn State match and decided to bring it out Wednesday.

Her three aces and one service error in 15 attempts gave Harms a .933 serving percentage for the match. But she said her goal wasn’t to try and pound out aces.

“My whole focus was just to keep relaxed while doing it and just get it in,” Harms said. “The aces just happened to be an added benefit.”

Harms wasn’t the only Gophers player with success on the serving line. In its 25-13 first set win alone, the team tallied five aces.

Two of those aces came from junior setter Alexandra Palmer to end the set.

“[We have] a really strong focus in practice on our serve and pass game,” Palmer said. “That’s the most important aspect of the game, and it’s something that [head coach Hugh McCutcheon]’s really taught us.”

By the end of the match, the Gophers had nine aces — another two by freshman outside hitter Daly Santana and one each from freshman defensive specialist Kalysta White and freshman outside hitter Karlie Hauer.

The easy win in the first set wasn’t repeated in the following sets. Michigan managed 20 points in its second-set loss.

The Wolverines delayed their defeat by winning the third set 25-23.

The Gophers trailed Michigan by as many as six points during the set. But Minnesota created a 6-0 run off Palmer’s serve to go up 20-19.

Head coach Hugh McCutcheon said the set could have gone either way after the Gophers made their comeback.

“[Michigan] played a little bit better, I think,” McCutcheon said. “We got into a pretty good-sized hole in the third, and I thought, to our athletes’ credit, we were able to get close to winning it.”

The Gophers finished off the Wolverines in the fourth set, winning 25-22.

“I thought our approach to the fourth set, in terms of our emotional investment and the way we were playing the game, was right on,” McCutcheon said. “I think, ultimately, it’s learning to manage adversity.”

McCutcheon said he was proud of how his team managed comebacks — something it struggled to do in the 3-0 loss to No. 1 Penn State last weekend.

“To me, the most important thing was we did get into trouble at times, and yet we were able to turn it around,” McCutcheon said. “And that’s, I think, a significant step.”