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


Oakland - J. Lester 7:07 PM
Kansas City - J. Shields
New England 14 FINAL
Kansas City 41
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
NY Islanders 6:00 PM
NY Rangers 6:00 PM
Ottawa 7:00 PM
Carolina 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Tampa Bay 7:30 PM
Colorado 8:00 PM
Los Angeles 9:30 PM
San Jose
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters


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.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pm30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 am
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




question of the day

Poll: How will the Gophers do against Michigan?

Weekly Question