The Gophers, it seemed, would be a national volleyball power come 2011. After all, middle hitter Lauren Gibbemeyer was the only senior on a 26-9 team rated No. 10 in the final polls.
Gibbemyer was an all-american. Hard to replace. But everywhere else the Gophers looked solid and were getting veteran Hailey Cowles back after she missed last season because of a knee injury.
But the program took a major hit recently when the transfer of 6-6 outside hitter Tabi Love was confirmed. She is taking her long arms and legs to UCLA, where she will be eligible immediately. Volleyball allows players transferring to another conference eligibility right away one time.
Love was second on the Gophers in total kills with 420, second in kills per set (3.47).
She was unavailable for comment, but did talk to her father.
Jeremy Love said his daughter made her decision to go to Minnesota at a young age, 16. "It was the safest choice, coming from a small rural town in Canada," he said,
The Loves live in Dauphin, Manitoba.
"Now she is grown up and more confident," he said. "She enjoyed her time in Minnesota. She and the team had a lot of success there."
He said her moving on was an evolution: "As a parent, you have to let your kids live life the way they think they should."
Tabi Love, who is still taking classes at the U, will start summer school at UCLA in June.
She waited until the Gophers hired a new coach to make her decision, Jeremy Love said.
The Gophers hired Hugh McCutcheon, the coach of the U.S. women's national team. He won't be starting at the U, though, until Tabi Love's senior season has started, her father said.
How much that time lapse effected his daughter's decision, Jeremy Love said, he didn't know. "You will have to ask her," he said.
Tabi Love was unavailable for comment Saturday night, but we will keep trying.