Sept. 12, 2012
Mia Tabberson is in her final season with the Golden Gopher program as Minnesota’s senior setter. A Muncie, Ind., native, Tabberson saw action in 27 matches last season and 96 sets. Holding a team-high 1,167 assists as a junior, Tabberson has played in over 70 career matches. A two-time Academic All-Big Ten, she was also awarded Minnesota’s Big Ten Sportsmanship award the last two years. Here’s a short question and answer with Tabberson.
Q: How have you been preparing for your last Gopher volleyball season?
A: We had workouts all summer, so we were doing open gyms on our own every day, then doing lifting and conditioning five times a week. Now we are in preseason, and just completed double days, which is very exciting. Just spending a lot of time in the gym with the team, I have been doing a lot of setter training with another setter, and taking a lot of time doing reps to prepare for the season one last time.
Q: As a veteran player and setter, walk me through your mind when you are on the floor during a game. How do you decide which set to make, front, middle, back?
A: The first thing I think about is just putting up the best ball possible. You go through a mental checklist in just the split second before you set, based on where the pass is, or where the dig is. So best set possible based on where the ball is. If it is 20 feet off the net, then you are probably not going to run your middle, so what is the best set I can put up. Next you want to think about what the other team is doing compared to what are our strengths. You look at your match ups to see what advantage we can place against their disadvantage or weakness. From there, you think of what worked last time and can run a play last time. If it didn’t, we need to think of another combination. Those are the three main things that go through my head in the split second before you set the ball, and you hope you get all those thoughts across.
Q: Which team are you looking forward to playing this season? Which team are you anticipating?
A: I am really looking forward to our Texas weekend again. They came here last season, and we beat them back-to-back nights in three straight sets. We played fantastic, it was our home-opener and we just played a really great game as a team. We know that Texas is going to want some revenge from that, but it would be nice to have another repeat of those wins. In Big Ten season, I am looking forward to Penn State and Nebraska because they are such good competition. Personally, since I am from Indiana, I like playing Purdue.
Q: You’re a student-athlete that likes to do a lot of community service. What drives you to devote so much of your time to serving? Why do you like working with children?
A: Anissa Lightner has been a huge mentor for me while at the University of Minnesota. She organizes our community outreach and has established connections in the community. I am particularly interested in volunteering in schools. I went to a K-12 school growing up and in my last two years of high school I spent a lot of time interning in the kindergarten and first grade rooms, so I just love it. When I first came to the ‘U’ I originally was majoring in elementary education, but then switched my major to psychology with focus on child psych. When I am volunteering, it is a break from the constant school/volleyball routine; it gives me more human interaction besides someone wearing maroon and gold. Tori Dixon, along with a few others would go volunteer every Friday and was a lot of fun. I just like giving back to the community. The community comes out and supports us at the games and they know who you are so I feel it only makes sense to go out give back to them.
Q: Hugh is joining the staff soon. What expectations do you have for him this season, especially in your last year, and with him adapting to the Minnesota style of play?
A: Obviously he is a really great coach and has amazing credentials. He has coached a lot of great players, (former Gopher setter) Lindsey Berg being one, and I am just excited because he is kind of like the capstone. He puts our whole new program together and is the final piece. This transition has been in the process since 2011, so for a year and a half now we have been working towards this new coaching style of play and coaching staff. This is kind of like we are finally ready to show everyone in Big Ten volleyball, and Minnesota volleyball what we have been working for. I think it is exciting that he wraps everything up in a nice happy bow. With the type of coaching style he brings, it will be nice to finally have all three coaches in place. And then we will finally answer a ton of questions that everyone has been having, everyone wants to know when Hugh is going to come?