Hello Gopher Nation, Stephan Goldbert here, welcome to part two of my ongoing twenty part series…..BETTER KNOW A NON-REV! Gopher Nation, today we leave soccer behind and preview volleyball. Volleyball is one of the fastest growing sports in the world, and I’m not ok with that because I don’t like foreign sports unless we can be good at them, which in this case we are so let’s talk about my new favorite sport, VOLLEYBALL! Volleyball is a sport that can be played on sand, on grass, or here in the best part of America, indoors during the Winter. That’s about all I know about this sport that I just discovered I have a life-long passions for. So with that I turn it over to our junior volleyball correspondent reporting from that place they used to play hockey, Libero Gopher!
Photo taken by Rolf Addy.
VB 101: General Introduction to Volleyball
OK, to be honest, I have no idea if volleyball is one of the growing sports in the world, but if I had to guess or make something up, I'm guessing it is. While in America we do have professional volleyball of the beach variety (AVP), in the rest of the world they have both women's and men's pro indoor leagues, which many of the top US players play in; but I have heard talk of pro leagues being started in the US, including a Minnesota Team (note there was a short-lived, 1 year, pro league for women in the US in 2002).
In my opinion what makes volleyball a great sport to watch is that it is a fast paced, easy to follow game that lets you get close to the action. Unlike the way you may have played as a kid, a point is scored on each volley (rally point) and the the set is played to 25 points (win by 2). Matches are a best of 5 series with a break after every two sets. Many of you may think Volleyball is a relaxed easy-going game, it is not. These women dive headfirst into the action, get struck in the face by spikes hit with incredible force, and have to sprint and change direction with lightning quick reflexes, then jump up and attack the ball (hard to say without a run-on sentence). For an example of this, check out these 2013 highlights from the 2013 NCAA tournament.
If you need a primer on the basics of volleyball, Wikipedia does a decent job.
VB 102: Gophernet
Official Team Site: Gophersports.com
Official Team Twitter: @GopherVBall
Official Team Facebook: Minnesota Volleyball
Home Facility: The Sports Pavilion
YouTube: Minnesota Gophers
Booster Club: Point U! Boosters
VB 201: Introductory Gopher
The Gophers have been playing volleyball since 1972 and have been B1G champs once in 2002. While they may have only been B1G champions once, they have done quite well in the NCAA tournament with 19 appearances including 3 trips to the final four (2003, 2004, 2009) with the Gophers being the runner up in 2004. Since their first season, the Gophers have produced 23 All-Americans (1st, 2nd, and honorable mention) and have had 8 head coaches.
Perhaps the all-time greatest Gopher Volleyball player was former Olympian Nicole Branagh who will be inducted into the M" Club Hall of Fame this year. For more background history on the Gopher Volleyball I'm going to be lazy and direct your to Wikipedia once again.
VB 202: Net Leadership
The Gophers are led by 3rd year head coach Hugh McCutchon, a former New Zealand & BYU player and US Olympic coach (both men & women) who is married to former Gopher and Olympic player Elisabeth Bachman.
His list of achievements is long but we are lucky to have him. In his short two years at Minnesota, he as led to the Gophers to a an Elite 8 appearance in 2012 and and Sweet 16 appearance in 2013 - his overall record is 56-15.
- Laura Bush - Associate Head Coachy
- Matt Houk - Assistant Coach
- Nao Ikeda - Director of Operations
- David Ganser - Assistant Director of Operations Volleyball
- Cindi Linell - Principal Administrative Specialist
VB 301: Recent History - 2013 Season
While not going as far in the NCAA tournament as the 2012 squad (27-8, 15-5), last year was a successful season in its own right (27-9, 15-5, 3rd B1G) including going 13-2 at home and defeating the eventual national runner up Wisconsin. The Gophers also hosted 1st and 2nd round regional games in the NCAA tournament and advanced to the Sweeet 16. The Gopher's had a ton of stars including seniors Tori Dixon (familiar name for Football fans) and Ashley Wittman, both All-American, foremost. So many good things happened too the Gophers last year it would take to long to list but it included a perfect academic score, coach of the year honors, and multiple players being given conference and national honors. At 9 minutes its kinda long, but watch the season highlight film that does a great job recapping the season.
VB 302: What Dreams May Come - 2014 Season
Going into the season the Gophers are ranked 12th in the nation and have one of the top ranked recruiting classes adding new blood. Leading the Gophers this year will be two players named to the preseason watch list; Senior Adrianna Nora and sophomore Hannah Tapp. This is a young team (reoccuring theme for Gopher teams) compared to the 2013 squad with only 2 seniors and one junior, but they have plenty of talent with their 6 returning sophomores joined by the 4 new freshman.
VB 401: The Roster & Schedule (Audit Class)
Its getting late guys so I wont have much detail here...none at all in fact. Use this link to the official roster to find out more info. I promise to highlight some players over the next few weeks. Here is the link to the schedule. Please note that for the tournaments, one ticket gets you into all of the games that day (usually) but you can't leave the pavilion (or so I was told last year).
VB 402: Gopher Socialization
These Gopher Women are active on social media including YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. One alumni to follow is Tori Dixon, she seems to like to make music videos with her teammates and is now on the US squad (Collegiate) Here's a sample.
VB 499: Capstone
Go watch some games. You can by a 3-pack for $25, trust me, it is worth it.