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Editorial Cartoon: Peace in Gaza
Editorial Cartoon: Peace in Gaza
Published April 19, 2024

Wilhite back on the court

The junior outside hitter missed seven matches this season because of an injury.
University of Minnesota outside hitter Sarah Wilhite lunges for the ball Aug. 30, 2014, at the Sports Pavilion.
Image by Zach Bielinski, Daily File Photo
University of Minnesota outside hitter Sarah Wilhite lunges for the ball Aug. 30, 2014, at the Sports Pavilion.
Sarah Wilhite was only one match into her junior season before she was injured and had to miss seven matches.
The outside hitter has made an impact after returning to the court, though, ranking fourth for the Gophers in kills per set. 
“We’ve certainly been happy with Sarah’s progress,” head coach Hugh McCutcheon said. “She’s come in and had a really positive impact in a few matches, and we expect that will continue.”
 
Wilhite has been an important asset to Minnesota since she arrived on campus in 2013. She registered 1.35 kills per set, fifth best on the team, her freshman season but was even stronger as a sophomore. 
 
She came in second on the team in total kills with 309 as well as kills per set at 2.81.
 
Wilhite was able to travel abroad after her sophomore year, playing with the USA Volleyball Collegiate National Team in China in June beside Minnesota teammates Hannah Tapp and Molly Lohman.
 
Her career hit a bump, however, when she was injured before the Gophers’ season and sophomore Alyssa Goehner took her spot in the starting lineup. 
 
“I put in some work with our strength coach and our trainer so I could make sure that I’d come back strong and without worry [of injury] again,” Wilhite said. 
 
Wilhite’s injury didn’t prevent her from being active during matches. She could often be seen leading celebrations after plays from Minnesota’s bench, and she rarely sat down to rest. 
 
Wilhite kept her energy up when she returned to the court as well. She has 61 kills through 11 matches this season and said she’s improved since coming back. 
 
“Skill-wise, I’ve really worked on my passing,” Wilhite said. “Coming in, I don’t think I was the best passer, but now I’ve really worked on that skill, and it’s improved a lot.” 
Wilhite said she thought about the technical parts of her game while she was 
 
injured, but she also was able to build confidence in herself.
 
“I believe in myself a lot more than I have in the past, and that translates into being able to execute at a higher level,” Wilhite said. “Like being able to go up and take big swings, in previous years I don’t think I would’ve had the bravery or confidence to come in and make a difference.”
 
Wilhite said her teammates were integral in her recovery, checking in on how she was doing personally rather than just how her injury felt. 
Teammate Daly Santana said she’s happy to have Wilhite back.
 
“She’s a tough competitor, and it’s great having her on the team,” Santana said. “With the team we have, anyone can come back in and do a great job.”
 

 

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