Oct. 4, 2012
Junior middle blocker Tori Dixon is having a great season with the Gopher volleyball team. Leading the nation and the Big Ten in hitting percentage (.475), Dixon has been a staple to the Gopher offense this season. Playing as an opposite with the A2 USA Program, Dixon improved her game throughout the course of the year. Here's a short question/answer with the Burnsville, Minn., native.
Q: Your hitting percentage this season tops the nation. What differences have you felt this year compared to previous years that contributes to your success?
A: I think the main difference is that a lot of the hitters have all stepped up their games. We have not only Ashley getting the majority of the kills, but also Katherine, myself, and other options such as Daly. We are all doing well, which also distracts the other team away from me a little bit. We have been able to set me more often, and the passing has been a little more stable. I think overall everyone has improved and stepped up their game and has all led to some good things; so thanks to my teammates.
Q: Talk about playing in the A2 USA program that you participated in this summer?
A: I went to a try-out in February in Colorado Springs, Colo., and from there, we got e-mails saying if we made the team and it turned out I made it. Once we got to the actual program in Columbus, Ohio, we had a week of training which was really good. The entire program had 48 players chosen and we all stayed in the Ohio Dominican University dorms. I tried out and played opposite, which is Katherine (Harms) position here. I did that just because I wanted more of the all-around game and I wanted to get better in all aspects of volleyball, not just hitting and not just blocking the middle. I wanted to get good at passing and at defense, so it’s the reason why I trained as an opposite. During the program we competed for four days, and we played really well. I definitely think I got better from that experience because we had some good coaches and I was around a lot of high level athletes.
Q: Can you tell fans the differences playing right side compared to the middle? What do you prefer?
A: It’s an entirely different position between the opposite hitter and the middle block. Middle is pretty much all focused on hitting and blocking, while the opposite is hitting, blocking and play defense. I don’t think I have a preference as long as I am competing and playing volleyball. I would have to say that playing middle is definitely a lot harder because it is a lot more physically demanding having to go block every single ball, and then go off to hit. We run quicks here so it is a lot faster and physically demanding. Mentally, you have to be able to read the entire game. The two positions are just different and there’s are no right or wrong way, but I like them both.
Q: You have mentioned that you would consider pursuing volleyball after your collegiate career, what would be your aspirations?
A: One day I would love to play for the United States National Team. Obviously I know that is a very lofty goal, but it doesn’t hurt to keep aiming, competing and trying to get better every day. You never really know what could happen, and I will work towards anything. Playing professionally overseas would be a dream for me. There is not a lot of professional options here in the United States, but there is a lot of good volleyball in European countries. There are just a lot of good leagues over there.
Q: With having Hugh as your coach, do you feel you have any advantages to pursuing post season volleyball?
A: I do not know about advantages per say but I do know he is a really good coach. He will prepare us the best way that he can. He will give all of us the type of work ethic and character that it takes to play. I don’t think just because he is the Olympic coach we will automatically get to play professionally, but he will definitely prepare us well, not only at the U of M, but prepare us for life after college. Not only in volleyball but with work and just life in general. He is an all-around good guy.
Written by Chelsea White
Athletic Communications Student Intern
Gophers in the Pros: Nicole Branagh
Gophersports.com checked in with Gopher hall of famer and United States Olympian, Nicole Branagh.
Tapp Named to Pan Am Cup Roster
Paige Tapp was named one of 14 players that will represent Team USA at the Pan American Cup, June 17-25 in Peru.
Wilhite, Sheehy Up for B1G Athlete of the Year
Wilhite and Sheehy are among 28 nominees representing each Big Ten Conference institution. The Big Ten Athletes of the Year will be announced on Monday, June 19.