Gopher Spotlight: Senior Middle Blocker Dana Knudsen

Go Gophers! Senior Middle Blocker Dana Knudsen
Go Gophers!
Senior Middle Blocker Dana Knudsen
Go Gophers!

Oct. 15, 2012

Dana Knudsen was one of two Santa Clara tranfers this season. In 65 sets played, Knudsen has 90 kills and hit .362 in 18 matches. She ranks second on the team in blocks (6-53-59) and averages 0.91 blocks per set. Here’s a question/answer session with the Sacramento, Calif., native.

Q: What factors lead to your decision to transfer to Minnesota?
A: Minnesota has a great program with great coaches. The team was also really nice. I liked the teamwork they showed and just how the whole program functioned. Transferring just seemed like a great opportunity for me, especially because I want to play professional volleyball after graduating, so the connections you can get from Minnesota are very beneficial. Minnesota also has a really good business school, which was a factor for me. Since I did not officially transfer until February I was not able to get into Carlson, but I am majoring in marketing so I am in the applied kinesiology-sports management school.

Q: How have you been able to adapt to the style of play?
A: It has been really great. It’s been challenging for sure, but I like it; it is a nice challenge to have. It has been so awesome to have such great hitters to practice against every day. There are some things that are a little different when it comes to the style of play, but I think every program has a different system. It’s nice to be able to learn to adjust and become a more versatile player. Minnesota runs a faster offense than Santa Clara, but that is great because I really like that. The blocking patterns are also different. Hitting from the back row has been really different for me, the WCC does not really have that many back row hitters, and in the Big Ten, it is a staple.

Q: Has it been an easier transition moving across the country since Alexandra Palmer transferred with you?
A: It’s great that we already have chemistry. She knows how I like to hit, and I know how she moves. I think we already have a good feel about where we are on the court. We already knew each other personally, so there is that comfort level. Some  of the others on the team, I am still getting to know. When you transfer as an upperclassmen compared to coming in as a freshman, it’s a little different. In some ways it is the same because I don’t know how the team runs things, what to wear, team rituals, boosters, etc. I identify with a lot of the freshmen with that. At the same time with being an upperclassman, I have already played in a lot of high pressure matches and I know how to deal with that emotionally. I feel like I have a little more experience and maturity in certain situations, just like knowing how to handle myself compared to when I was a freshman and that definitely translates over, which is nice.

Q: How have you felt competing in the Big Ten Conference compared to playing in the WCC?
A: I think both conferences are really competitive, but it is a totally different style of play. The Big Ten is full of big hitters, big blocks, and they run a lot out of the back row. It is just a different style. It’s not like one conference is better or worse, they are just different. The Big Ten is obviously a great conference; it is really challenging and really exciting. Every weekend and every game is competitive. There is never a down weekend, great to be challenged every moment because it really builds character. I have played Big Ten teams before, like Michigan, but playing these teams, it is going to be a new experience with a new team no matter what. None of these teams I am familiar with in contrast like San Diego or Pepperdine. However, I definitely hope we get to face some of those teams in the playoffs, that would just be a cherry on top of a sundae.

Q: Playing in the Sports Pavilion, it has been a bigger crowd than you are used to playing for. How has that been adjusting and impact your game?
A: Here, the home games really blew me away. The energy in the Pavilion, there is so many people in there who are passionate about the team. I think more energy is always better. It’s much harder to come out when you are having a bad day and play in a flat gym. But when you have that much excitement you can’t help but play into that and be excited about it. The first weekend I sat out it was a new experience for me, I had to learn to deal with those nerves. Now I feel I have adjusted well. It gives me energy and I have adapted the energy for my game. I love having lots of people in the gym. If you are a good team you need to be able to play under pressure.