The 2015 University of Minnesota Golden Gopher volleyball team has had a very successful season, including a one week stint as the nation’s top ranked Division I school.
Part of their success has been the nine players from Minnesota high schools that have contributed to an overall record of 24-4 going into Wednesday night’s home finale against the Ohio State Buckeyes. It also included a school record 15 match winning streak.
Looking at their starting lineup, five of the six starters are Minnesota products. Alyssa Goehner, a sophomore from Lakeville North, was Ms. Volleyball in 2013. Molly Lohman, a sophomore from Mankato West, was second in Minnesota in blocks with 115. Sarah Wilhite, a junior from Eden Prairie, was a first team All-American. There are also twin junior sisters Hannah and Paige Tapp from Stewartville who played for veteran head coach John Dzubay
But the biggest key to the Gophers success is freshman setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson. She entered the match with 1175 assists. Her season high was 66 against Purdue on November 21. Seliger-Swenson, a graduate of Hopkins, was coached by her mom, Vicki Seliger-Swenson. Between sets, the Hopkins coach gave her reaction to Samantha wearing the maroon and gold.
“She loves her coaches, her teammates. You have to have passion for what you’re doing.”
Hugh McCutcheon, Gopher head coach described the impact his freshman setter has had on the team’s success. “It’s really hard to describe the impact Sam’s had. Sam’s had a wonderful year.”
Seliger-Swenson commented on playing for McCutcheon after being coached by her mom at Hopkins. “He’s a great coach and he has a great influence on he whole team.”
The Gopher freshman also looked back on playing for her mom. “She never pushed me into playing volleyball.It’s what I chose to do.”
Seliger-Swenson also stated that college volleyball is a lot faster than high school volleyball. “It’s a lot faster, a lot different and you have to be stronger,” Seliger-Swenson said.
Janis Goehner, mother of Alyssa and an Apple Valley graduate who played under Alyssa’s high school coach Walt Weaver gave her view on Alyssa playing for Minnesota and joining her Northern Lights club volleyball teammates. “It’s been a blessing in disguise.”
As for Alyssa Goehner playing with her club teammates on the Gophers. “We’ve created this new team to look back on. We’re all best friends.”
Other Minnesotans who are a part of the Gophers are Erica Handley, a junior from Lakeville North, Taylor Morgan, a freshman from Blaine and Margaret Eggert, a junior from East Ridge in Woodbury.
Now to the match. Playing in front of a packed Sports Pavilion crowd of 5,262, the Gophers came up short in the first two sets 25-27 and 29-31 before utilizing outstanding front line blocking from Paige and Hannah Tapp to win the third set 25-17. Minnesota would put Ohio State away in the fourth set as they showed excellent team hustle and blocking to force a fifth set 25-15.
In the fifth set, the Gophers fell behind 5-4 before going on an 11-4 run to win 15-9 and complete the comeback and improved Minnesota’s record to 25-4. Ohio State fell to 22-9.
Seliger-Swenson finished the match with 59 assists, the eighth time she has surpassed the 50 assist mark this season.