Tapp helps lead young Gophers

Paige Tapp has made an impact on the court during her second season.

Rachel Timmerman

What a difference a year makes.

Sophomore middle blocker Paige Tapp watched from the sideline for a majority of last season, playing in only 21 sets.

More than halfway through this season, Tapp has more than tripled that number.

After playing every match this season, Tapp has emerged as a go-to player and a leader on the court.

“She’s able to execute on the court at a higher level than she was a year ago, clearly,” head coach Hugh McCutcheon said.

Her twin sister, middle blocker Hannah Tapp, said last year, there were three middles competing for two starting spots.

And Paige Tapp was the odd one out.

“Last year, it was obviously competitive every day in the gym,” Hannah Tapp said. “She was always a really good support system.”

Paige Tapp said she definitely had a different role on the team last year, but said she didn’t think of herself as a reserve player.

“Being able to play under [All-American] Tori Dixon and being able to come in every day and learn how to be a good teammate, that helped,” Paige Tapp said.

In the offseason, she worked toward the goal of having a starting spot on the team.

Hannah Tapp said Paige put in hard work in the spring and has more confidence this season.

“Her volleyball IQ has increased,” Hannah Tapp said. “And just in general, her maturity has increased,”

Freshman Alyssa Goehner, who played club volleyball with the Tapps in the past, said she has seen Paige Tapp evolve into a different player than she was last season.

“She comes in before practice, she’ll stay later, she’ll do anything to get better and get to that next highest level,” Goehner said. “She pursues everything, [and] she’s a big asset to our team.”

McCutcheon said her discipline is a good example for the rest of the team.

As for improvement, McCutcheon said he’d like to see Paige Tapp get more swings and kills and also see her play the whole game at a “little bit better level” than she does right now.

But there are things she does exceptionally well — she jumps high, can hit hard, has a good blocking presence and is overall a great athlete, McCutcheon said.

Paige Tapp has also brought versatility to the Gophers.

In her early volleyball days, she would play on the right side with her sister Hannah Tapp in the middle.

This season, Paige Tapp has mainly played middle blocker, but she has recently seen time in her old position on the right side, too.

Hannah Tapp said she enjoyed having her sister back on the right side, and the games where they were block at the net together remind her of playing club volleyball together.

McCutcheon said it’s nice to have that flexibility, adding that Paige Tapp’s position depends on the Gophers’ opponent.

“She’s just a good player, certainly a great young woman,” McCutcheon said. “We’re looking forward to seeing how good she can become.”