Lohman sticks in starting lineup

The sophomore has started seven out of seven matches with Minnesota this year.

Sophomore Molly Lohman strikes the ball at the Sports Pavilion on Saturday morning where the Gophers defeated North Dakota State University.

Joe Sulik

Sophomore Molly Lohman strikes the ball at the Sports Pavilion on Saturday morning where the Gophers defeated North Dakota State University.

Emily Polglaze

In Minnesota’s match-up against the University of Central Florida on Saturday, 6-foot-3-inch Molly Lohman came up for a big solo block to extend the Gophers’ lead to 21-14. 
Lohman’s teammates were fired up on the court, but the sophomore kept a cool composure. Despite her big play, Lohman stayed focused on the court, where she’s seeing a lot more playing time this season.
Lohman has gone from starting less than a third of last year’s matches to starting every one so far this season. 
“It’s very exciting,” Lohman said. “Coming in this year, I knew what [starting] was all about and I was ready to be [in] there.”
Lohman, a middle blocker, said her nine starts in the team’s 31 matches last season prepared her for her new role, but she’s taken extra steps to round out her game.
Outside of blocking, Lohman is seeing extra success on offense. She is currently fifth on the team in kills with 33, and has improved her number of kills per set from 0.73 to 1.32.
On the serve, she’s already quadrupled her ace total from last season from two to eight. She earned six during last weekend’s Diet Coke Classic tournament alone. 
Lohman said her success could be attributed to the extra experience she had over the summer. She played for the USA Volleyball Collegiate team with teammates Hannah Tapp and Sarah Wilhite in China from June 13-26.
“They play a faster game there,” Lohman said. “I learned different things I wouldn’t normally see here, and that’s helped me be more diverse in my playing.”
Lohman was not originally part of the China tour team, but she was offered the opportunity two days before the team was set to depart. 
Though the experience helped expand her game on the attack in hitting and serving, Lohman also remains dedicated to her blocking. 
Lohman has improved her blocks-per-set ratio from 0.80 to 1.36 from last season to this one and leads the team currently with 34 total. 
After just seven matches, she only needs seven more blocks to break her rookie season total of 41.
“Getting more connection with my setters has helped a lot,” Lohman said. 
Lohman may be proving herself on the score sheet, but head coach Hugh McCutcheon said there’s still plenty of work to be done for her to reach her potential. 
“We still need her to take care of her end of the bargain in the middle there,” McCutcheon said. “But she’s working hard, and she’s very talented at the net as a blocker; we just need to keep building that offensive piece.” 
Lohman said she’d like to improve her hitting percentage and keep it consistent, something she considers important for a middle 
Though soft-spoken after a big play, Lohman isn’t shy about sharing her high expectations for her team this year.
“Last year, we could’ve done it, but we didn’t. We backed off,” Lohman said. “We were just short of getting to the [NCAA] tournament, but we want to get there and go far beyond that.”