Throughout the 2017 preseason, VolleyMob.com will be joined by guest writers from last year’s Top 25 teams as well as other award winners and All-Americans. These bloggers will give you an inside look at their teams, preseason training, team leadership and much more.
Reigning Big Ten Setter of the Year Samantha Seliger-Swenson from Minnesota took time out of her first travel day of the year to share about all things Gopher volleyball.
The junior from Minnetonka, Minnesota, was a first team All-American and unanimous All-Big Ten selection in 2016 after leading the nation with 1,465 assists and ranking eighth nationally in assists per set (11.63). Seliger-Swenson, one of VolleyMob’s Preseason Player of the Year picks, registered 16 double-doubles and earned Big Ten Setter of the Year honors four times. The setter also led the team in aces with 31, while helping the squad to a .288 hitting percentage.
The No. 4 Gophers advanced to the Final Four in 2016, capping a 29-5 campaign, including a second-place Big Ten finish. The team must replace AVCA Player of the Year Sarah Wilhite and All-Americans Paige Tapp and Hannah Tapp, but. In return Seliger-Swenson, outside hitter Alexis Hart and middle blocker Molly Lohman, who were named to the Preseason All-Big Ten team. Hart was a Big Ten All-Freshman team honoree and honorable mention All-America selection, while Lohman also garnered honorable mention All-American nods after averaging 1.40 blocks per set. The team also adds six newcomers to the roster.
Minnesota, which was picked to finish third in the league’s preseason coaches poll, kicks off the 2017 campaign at the Big Ten/ACC Challenge against No. 11 North Carolina on Friday. The team will be sporting new threads for the match and throughout the season.
Seliger-Swenson’s take on everything just days from her junior season is below.
Hey Gopher fans!
As I’m writing this, I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by 17 of my favorite girls on a bus to Madison, Wisconsin. After a long summer of hard work, we are finally off to our first match of the season. We could not be more excited to begin the 2017 season journey!
Throughout this preseason, we have been striving to focus on the process. Every morning, our first practice of the day consisted of learning the fundamentals. We spent a lot of time breaking down serving, passing, blocking, setting, and attacking. The amount of learning going on in the PAV was amazing!
Another important factor this preseason was getting acclimated as a team. We had six new freshmen who have transitioned seamlessly. Along with the returners, they came in ready to work hard, get better, and give to the team. During each afternoon practice, we would review the key skills and COMPETE! During the competition portion, there were numerous rallies full of energy, touches, and plays that we were not making in our gym a year ago.
Aside from the hours in the gym and weight room, we did get a few chances to hang out as a team. Earlier in the preseason, Hugh (McCutcheon) had the whole team over to his house for a BBQ. The food was amazing and the company was even better! We also took a small road trip to a neat, renovated barn restaurant in the Southern Minnesota countryside where we ate coal-fired pizza, played games, and had a lot of laughs.
All in all, I could not be more proud of the team so far. Each day, we continue to push each other to be the best we could be. This preseason, we developed a safe environment full of hard work, selflessness, respect, honesty, and genuine care for each other. I can’t wait to compete alongside my wonderful teammates in just over 24 hours and put all our hard work into play!
Thanks for tuning in and Go Gophers!