Gopher Blog: Minnesota Volleyball in the News

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The Golden Gophers have been featured both on the national scale as well a here in the Twin Cities recently. Minnesota volleyball coach Hugh McCutcheon was featured on ESPN, written by Minneapolis-based Patrick Borzi. ESPN article can be found here.

In the Minnesota Daily, Gopher volleyball also has a human interest story in defensive specialists/liberos Lindsey Lawmaster and Kalysta White. Called "chickens" to the team, the duo discusses their instant bond as teammates. Find out why they are called the chickens here.

Minnesota opens the 2012 Big Ten Conference season this weekend against Illinois and Northwestern. Watch the Minnesota/Illinois match live on the Big Ten Network.

McCutcheon's First Practice

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Photo gallery of first practice

University of Minnesota volleyball coach Hugh McCutcheon held his first official practice today at the Sports Pavilion. Since being named the Gopher head coach on Feb. 10, 2011, McCutcheon has now officially completed his USA Volleyball duties and joined the Gopher program on Thursday, just in time for the home opener and the Diet Coke Classic.

Minnesota ran drills, worked on technique and scrimmaged throughout practice. Known as a great communicator, McCutcheon gathered everyone in periodically during practice to provide another teaching moment. With practice running from 8 a.m.-11 a.m., McCutcheon then met with local media members.

Minnesota volleyball opens the home season this weekend as it hosts the Diet Coke Classic, Aug. 31-Sept. 1 at the Sports Pavilion. Minnesota hosts Albany, Long Island University Brooklyn and Miami (OH) this weekend. The Golden Gophers host six matches during the tournament, the first starting at 5 p.m. Friday with Miami and Albany competing. Minnesota plays LIU Brooklyn on Friday, followed by Miami at 10 a.m. Saturday and Albany Saturday night at 8 p.m. An all-tournament winner and all-tournament team will be named following the conclusion of the final match Saturday.

Fans can follow the Gopher volleyball program through the free audio link option on Minnesota will also provide live in-game chats for all Gopher matches during the tournament.

Blog: Berg and McCutcheon's New Chapter in Life

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Once the gold medal game was completed, many media members ask what's next for the Minnesota connections, Hugh McCutcheon and Gopher alum Lindsey Berg. McCutcheon will take over at the helm of Golden Gopher Volleyball once his USA commitments have been completed. Berg has been vocal that the 2012 London Games were her third and her last Olympics.

In the recent days, various members of the media, both local and national, have covered the Minnesota duo. USA Volleyball's Bill Kauffman wrote a sidebar on their next career step. The Associated Press added an article that was picked up by various national media outlets, including St. Paul Pioneer Press, ESPN and Yahoo Sports. Locally, Star Tribune's Patrick Reusse watched the gold medal match with McCutcheon's future team, your Golden Gophers.

While Team USA didn't win the gold medal, a great accomplishment was set by winning its second straight silver. In Kauffman's article Berg states that she lives with no regrets and "if I went back, I wouldn't change a thing."

McCutcheon is ready for a new challenge as he prepares to coach his first collegiate team. As his USA tenure winds down, McCutcheon said "It has been a privilege to coach this team and I will do my best to positively influence the group that we have to work at Minnesota."

Blog: Gopher Volleyball Photo Day

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Candid shots of team photo day

Although it was an off day on the court, the Gopher volleyball team is preparing for the 2012 season in a different way. It was photo day here at Bierman and the Sports Pavilion. The team was busy getting their mugshots (now active on their bio pages), team photo and individual shots. Along with photos, Tori Dixon, Katherine Harms, Brianna Haugen, Mia Tabberson and Ashley Wittman recorded Big Ten Network teasers for the the upcoming televised games. What are players doing in between their photo opportunities? Taking candid photos of course. Primarily led by Dixon, the team submitted some of their best camera shots from today's activities. Take a look at the team and their creativity.

Gophers Open Preseason Wednesday

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2012 Volleyball First Practice

The University of Minnesota volleyball program kicked off the 2012 season today, at the Sports Pavilion as the Golden Gophers held its first practice. The team reported on Tuesday for team meetings and on Wednesday were busy in the gym.

The first practice day consisted of an early morning with a 7 a.m. physical testing with strength coach Sarah Wiley. Following breakfast, the team gathered together for the first practice at 10 a.m. As coaches Laura Bush, Chris Tamas and volunteer coach Dave Ganser looked on, the team worked on technique and ball control.

Following a lunch, the team will add another practice at 3:30, followed by dinner and a team meeting. The Gophers will continue two-a-days also on Thursday and Friday, while Saturday will be photo day and relaxation.

The Gophers open the season at the James Madison Tournament, August 25th in Harrisonburg, Va. Minnesota will play twice that day as it takes on host James Madison (11:30 a.m. CT) and Appalachian State (4:30 p.m. CT). Minnesota's first home matches will be August 31-Sept. 1 as hosts Albany, Long Island and Miami (OH). 

Blog: Gopher Volleyball Lawn Bowling

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Photo Album

KARE 11 Coverage

Tori Dixon and Ashley Wittman are used to getting up early for 6 a.m. workouts so when KARE 11 Sunrise called for them to compete in a lawn bowling tourney at 6 a.m., they were ready. 

KARE 11 (NBC Twins Cities affiliate) kicked off the 2012 London Olympics by holding an on-location event at a local English establishment (Brit's Pub) in Minneapolis. The duo was among former Olympians, Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak, Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve and Gopher wrestling head coach J Robinson. They all competed in a lawn bowling tournament to ring in the Summer Games as the opening ceremony is today (July 27th).

Arriving at 5:45 a.m., they were greeted by KARE's Bryan Piatt, while the live show was being held in the background. The competitive juices were flowing on the rooftop as Dixon and Wittman were paired with former Olympians, including wrestler Brandon Paulson, who won a silver medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. If there was an award for most competitive and enthusiastic, it went to him. Having only a couple practice opportunities, Gopher Volleyball represented in their rookie performance as their team (Team USA) won by one point.  

Minnesota Volleyball reports on August 7th with the first practice being held on August 8th. The Gophers start the season August 25th at the James Madison Tournament, while hosting the Diet Coke Classic on August 31st. Following the Olympics, Minnesota will welcome head coach Hugh McCutcheon. Currently the head coach of the U.S. women's Olympic team, McCutcheon will join the Gophers following the 2012 London Games.

NCAA Selection Show and NCAA Regionals

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As the regular season winds down this weekend, all teams will be awaiting to hear if it is a part of the second season. The NCAA field of 64 for the 2011 DI women's volleyball tournament will be announced at 5 p.m. CT Nov. 27 on ESPNU.

The University of Minnesota will also be hosting one of the NCAA Regionals. The NCAA has announced the start times for Minnesota's regionals. On Friday, Dec. 9, the NCAA Regional Semifinals will be held a 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., both on ESPN 3. On Saturday, Dec. 10, the Regional Final will be held at 8:30 p.m. and will be shown on ESPN U.

Tickets are now on sale for the NCAA Regional. All session reserved chair back is $25. all session adult general admission is $20, while all session student/youth/senior general admission is $15. Single session tickets will go on sale the week of the tournament. Fans can purchase tickets through or by calling the Gopher ticket office at 1-800 UGOPHER or 612-624-8080. 
Minnesota alum Lindsey Berg was named the team captain as USA Volleyball participates in the FIVB Women's World Cup to be held Nov. 4-18 in Nagano, Japan. The event is the first 2012 Olympic Games qualification event with the top three countries earning a ticket to London next summer. Team USA, led by Hugh McCutcheon, posted his full roster, which also includes Jennifer Tamas, the wife of Gopher assistant coach, Chris Tamas. Team USA will open the World Cup against Brazil on Nov. 4, Serbia on Nov. 5 and Nov. 6 against Korea. Following a travel day Team USA will then competes against Kenya on Nov. 8 and Germany on Nov. 9.

The full USA Volleyball release with roster and information can be found here.

Former Gophers Win Pan Am Bronze

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The University of Minnesota was well represented at the Pan Am games with USA Volleyball. Former Gopher greats Lauren Gibbemeyer, Jessy Jones and former Gopher coach Mike Hebert assisted Team USA to a bronze medal, Thursday night. Led by Gibbemeyer and Jones, Team USA had 22 blocks to rally past Dominican Republic 23-25, 25-16, 25-20, 25-19 in  in Guadalajara, Mexico.

In the bronze-medal match, Gibbemeyer (St. Paul, Minn.) added 16 points with 11 kills and five blocks, while Jones (Naperville, Ill.) charted five kills and seven blocks for 12 points. Gibbemeyer was named the Games' Best Blocker. Playing in all 17 sets, Gibbemeyer led Team USA with 24 blocks, averaging 1.41 per set. She ranked second on the team in kills with 36, trailing only team captain Cynthia Barboza, who had 62. Jones had 20 blocks and 24 kills also in 17 sets played. Coach Hebert served as an assistant coach for the Pan Am Games. 

Team USA's Lauren Gibbemeyer Named Best Blocker

Information and photos courtesy of USA Volleyball and NORCECA

Gophers Ranked Fourth in RPI

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The NCAA released the Division I RPI and Minnesota is fourth overall in the nation. Like the AVCA poll, Illinois ranks first as the only undefeated team in the country at 19-0 (6-0 road, 4-0 neutral, 9-0 home). Nebraska, the Gophers' last opponent, ranks second with a 15-1 overall mark, while Iowa State is ranked third (15-3). Of the top 10 teams in the RPI standings, Minnesota has faced five of the teams already this season.

Along with Illinois, Nebraska and Minnesota, the Big Ten Conference has a total of six ranked in the top 20 RPI. Michigan is ranked 15th overall, Purdue is ranked 16th, Penn State at 19. Full RPI rankings located here.