The Gophers women's volleyball team, ranked No. 6 nationally, opened its season Friday by winning twice in the Alabama-Birmington/Samford tournament.

The U routed Jacksonville State 25-8, 25-15, 25-16 in its first match behind middle blocker Tori Dixon, who had 17 kills in 25 swings, a .400 efficiency, and 12 digs. Daly Santana had 12 kills and Ashley Wittman and Sarah Wilhite 10 kills apiece.

Setter Alexandra Palmer had 41 assists and 22 digs.

Then the Gophers beat co-host UAB 25-19, 25-14, 25-17. Dixon, a 6-3 senior from Burnsville, was again the dominant player in the match. She had 15 kills on 26 attempts, a .538 percentage, 11 digs and three solo blocks.

Sam Skinner had 17 kills for the home team. Nobody else on either team had more than seven.

Wittman led the Gophers in digs with 15 while Palmer had 26 assists.

Minnesota had six aces in the victory, outblocked UAB 9-7 and held a 47-37 dig advantage. Minnesota hit .256 in the match to UAB's .082.

The Gophers play two more matches in the tournament on Saturday, facing Georgia State at 10 a.m. and Samford at 5 p.m., both at Samford's Pete Hanna Center.

U rolls in women's soccer

Katie Thyken scored goals in the third and 47th minute and also had an assist as the Gophers beat Illinois State 4-0 at Robbie Stadium to improve to 3-0. Thyken is a junior midfielder from Eden Prairie.

Olivia Schultz and Taylor Wodnick scored the other goals for the U, which had a 7-1 advantage over the Redbirds in shots on goal. Kristen Knutson got the shutout over Illinois State (1-2).

The Gophers will play at Iowa State at 1 p.m. Sunday.


• The Gophers women's cross-country team was ranked No. 19 this week in the national coaches' poll.