Dixon, Wittman in fourth Sweet 16 together as U teammates

Longtime friends Tori Dixon and Ashley Wittman want to lead the Gophers to volleyball’s Final Four.

 

There are few things Gophers volleyball All-America players Tori Dixon and Ashley Wittman have done without the other.

They’ve traveled to Italy and Puerto Rico together. They’ve made soup for each other when one of them was sick. They have the same major, sports management, and take most of the same classes. On Friday, they’ll play in their fourth consecutive Sweet 16 as teammates.

The Gophers face Stanford in the NCAA Regional at Lexington, Ky., with the winner advancing to Saturday’s region final.

A long history has produced countless memories for Dixon, a middle blocker, and Wittman, an outside hitter. They’ve played alongside one another for the past 10 years and have grown into two of the program’s most prolific players. They’ve also become best friends.

“We’ve experienced everything together, from volleyball, school, friends,” Dixon said. “It’s just been a good experience having your best friend with you all the time.”

Their commitment to volleyball and the Northern Lights Junior Volleyball club at age 12 sparked the friendship. As they began to travel together, the bond grew and eventually extended into high school, despite the rivalry Burnsville and Shakopee had developed.

Shakopee always prevailed, Wittman still reminds Dixon. Most of Shakopee’s points would come when Dixon rotated to the back row.

The friendly competition ended when the high school stars joined forces with the Gophers. Since then, they’ve only made each other better. As college teammates they developed better communication and accountability, each said, through offseason workouts together.

“Going through our college career together and going through ups and downs and learning more about one another on and off the court,” Wittman said, “we’ve helped each other want to get better. And knowing that we have something to achieve and that we can do it together, it’s just nice knowing that person is there and you can have them on the volleyball court or in the weight room with you.”

Second-year coach Hugh McCutcheon said he’s noticed significant improvement in Dixon and Wittman during his two seasons with the team. The pair have become better leaders and teammates. More mature, better game managers.

This growth was obvious in the fifth set of last Saturday’s second-round NCAA game against Colorado. The Buffaloes rallied from two sets down and pushed the Gophers to the edge of elimination. Wittman gathered the team together and exclaimed their season wouldn’t end this way.

The motivation worked. Dixon recorded the final three points to secure the Gophers’ spot in another Sweet 16 with a 15-9 win in the fifth set.

Dixon said their long friendship is an advantage in pressure situations like last Saturday: “We’ve been through everything together.”

“As people and teammates, there is no doubt they’ve got a long history and really strong connection and I think they help each other a lot,” McCutcheon said. “You can see they’ve got a lot of good years together.”

The good has peaked over the past two seasons. Dixon earned her third consecutive All-Big Ten selection, Wittman her second. Both have been second team All-America selections.

Dixon leads the Gophers in kills (445), total blocks (159) and points (556.5) and is second, among regulars, in hitting percentage (.398). Wittman ranks second in kills (406) and points (459.5), and first in digs (413) and double-doubles (15).

“I can’t imagine not playing with [Dixon],” Wittman said. “It hasn’t really hit me yet, but it’s been a great college career.”

  • related content

  • Concordia volleyball beats No. 1-ranked Tampa in national quarterfinals

    Friday December 13, 2013

    Concordia (St. Paul) took a big step toward a seventh consecutive NCAA Division II volleyball title Thursday night.

  • 2013 Gophers volleyball statistics

    Thursday December 12, 2013

  • Chart: NCAA volleyball Lexington regional

    Thursday December 12, 2013

    Lexington RegionalThe Big Ten has seven teams in the Sweet 16, a record for one conference. Three of them will...

  • Gophers seniors Tori Dixon, left, and Ashley Wittman know that they can count on each other in pressure situations.

  • Tori Dixon, left, and Ashley Wittman of the Gophers were All-Big Ten volleyball picks this season. Their coach says they help each other a lot.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Los Angeles - LP: B. Wilson 7 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Grimm 8
Detroit - WP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Shields 2
Philadelphia - WP: J. Williams 3 FINAL
Oakland - LP: D. Otero 0
Toronto - WP: M. Stroman 6 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: C. Capuano 3
Arizona - LP: T. Cahill 1 FINAL
Colorado - WP: E. Butler 5
Boston 2 Top 9th Inning
Baltimore 7
Milwaukee 0 Top 8th Inning
Pittsburgh 0
Washington 3 Top 9th Inning
Miami 2
NY Mets 4 Bottom 9th Inning
Atlanta 2
Chicago WSox 0 Bottom 8th Inning
Tampa Bay 3
Cleveland 7 Bottom 5th Inning
Minnesota 2
Seattle - LP: C. Young 1 FINAL
Houston - WP: D. Keuchel 10
Cincinnati 4 Bottom 8th Inning
St. Louis 8
San Francisco 0 Top 5th Inning
San Diego 1
Texas 0 Bottom 3rd Inning
LA Angels 1
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Miami
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Carolina
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(13) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(11) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(21) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
FIU 3
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
(18) Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Ball State 0 Delayed 9:30
Toledo 6
Appalachian St 7 4th Qtr 11:18
Southern Miss 14
Miss State 31 4th Qtr 14:54
(8) LSU 10
Northern Ill 14 4th Qtr 9:00
Arkansas 45
Middle Tennessee 10 4th Qtr 9:35
Memphis 36
Utah State 14 4th Qtr 11:00
Arkansas State 7
Miami-Ohio 21 4th Qtr
Cincinnati 31
Idaho 17 4th Qtr 8:00
Ohio U 23
(14) So Carolina 24 3rd Qtr 7:30
Vanderbilt 21
(4) Oklahoma 24 3rd Qtr 12:37
West Virginia 24
Ga Southern 21 4th Qtr 14:51
South Alabama 6
UNLV 7 3rd Qtr
Houston 13
New Mexico 21 3rd Qtr
New Mexico St 14
Miami-Florida 14 3rd Qtr 14:30
(24) Nebraska 17
(22) Clemson 10 3rd Qtr
(1) Florida State 3
California 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(20) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(23) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
(18) Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(8) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(9) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(17) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Vancouver FC 0 FINAL
Portland 3
Houston 0 FINAL
Philadelphia 0
New England 0 FINAL
Columbus 1
San Jose 0 FINAL
Montreal 2
Seattle 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 4
D.C. 1 2nd Half 44:55
Chicago 2
FC Dallas 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 15 7:26
Hamilton 17
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.
Sep 27 - at Michigan TBA
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern TBA
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 am
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close