Young Gophers volleyball team takes on North Dakota in NCAA tourney opener

“We did not actually know what (this season) was going to be,” junior setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson stated.

There wasn’t a lot proof to recommend by hook or by crook. The Gophers appeared in every of the previous two Ultimate Fours however graduated the likes of Hannah Tapp, Paige Tapp, Sarah Wilhite and Katie Schau, who did a lot of the heavy lifting for final yr’s staff.

There have been a number of high quality returning items, little question, however McCutcheon was going to lean closely on underclassmen this season, and there is by no means any assure of how that is going to work out. This season, for Minnesota, it is gone swimmingly.

Minnesota (26-5), the No. 7 seed within the NCAA event, opens its postseason at 7 p.m. Friday with a primary-spherical matchup towards North Dakota (30-7) at Maturi Pavilion. Regardless of a big roster overhaul, the Gophers are again of their normal place — opening the NCAA event at residence, armed with a prime-eight seed and bonafide Last 4 aspirations.

“I knew we might be gifted,” McCutcheon stated. “I did not know if we might be any good or not. It is good that we could be each.”

For that, the Gophers can thank their freshmen.

The Gophers have a slew of gifted veteran gamers. Sophomore outdoors hitter Alexis Hart and junior setter Seliger-Swenson have been All-Massive Ten choices. Senior center blocker Molly Lohman, senior outdoors hitter Alyssa Goehner and senior libero Dalianliz Rosado have performed essential roles, as properly.

However no prime group has relied on freshmen as a lot as Minnesota. Gophers freshmen have mixed to play 440 units this season, simply probably the most among the many prime eight seeds within the NCAA event. For reference, prime-seeded Penn State’s freshmen class has mixed to play 9 units.

McCutcheon lauded his freshmen’s composure and “capability to handle the load.”

On the forefront of this class is reverse hitter Stephanie Samedy, and All-Massive Ten choice who leads the Gophers with 447 kills. Third on the staff in kills (198) is redshirt freshman center blocker Regan Pittman. Freshman outdoors hitter Jasmyn Martin, a Hopkins, Minn., grad, is fifth in kills with 169. Defensively, libero Lauren Barnes has been a rock within the again row.

All have been pushed into huge roles of their first collegiate motion, and all have answered the decision.

“I feel it is one factor to think about what it’s to compete on this league and to be at a program the place the game issues, not simply to the college, however to the establishment and the load that goes with that,” McCutcheon stated. “I feel they’ve executed a…

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