Only one name will be inscribed on each of the postseason volleyball awards announced Tuesday by the Big Ten. But when the Gophers congratulated their three winners — Daly Santana as the league's player of the year, Samantha Seliger-Swenson as freshman of the year and Hugh McCutcheon as coach of the year — they all felt a sense of achievement.
Just as it took the work of many hands to win the program's first Big Ten title since 2002, it required a full team commitment to allow three individuals to shine. Santana, a senior outside hitter, led the Big Ten with 497 kills and became the first Gopher since Cassie Busse in 2003 to be named the league's player of the year. Seliger-Swenson, a setter from Minnetonka, led the conference in assists per set (11.47).
The Gophers, who begin postseason play Friday as the No. 2 overall seed in the NCAA tournament, placed those two and Hannah Tapp on the All-Big Ten team. Paige Tapp, Hannah's twin sister, made honorable mention, and Seliger-Swenson was named to the all-freshman team.
"[The honors] are great," Santana said. "Really, they're awesome. But it goes back to this team. Those awards wouldn't be possible without the help of every single person on this team."
McCutcheon — who last week earned his 100th victory as Gophers coach — directed the team to an 18-2 Big Ten record, its best conference mark ever. The Gophers were predicted to finish fifth in the league after going 9-11 in the Big Ten last season and missing the NCAA tournament. They are 26-4 overall entering Friday's first-round game against Jackson State at the Sports Pavilion.
McCutcheon, 101-31 in four seasons at Minnesota, spent little time reflecting on the honors: "[The awards are] validation of a great season. That's nice, and we appreciate it. We also understand that's over. … And we're very much invested in the next part of our journey."
National honor for Concordia lineman
Hank Goff, a senior defensive lineman for Concordia (St. Paul), was named the winner of the Disney Sports Spirit Award, given annually to college football's most inspirational figure. Goff used football to help him overcome post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from an Afghanistan combat tour as a Marine.
He will receive his award Dec. 10 during the College Football Awards on ESPN.
• Sophomore forward Leon Bristedt of the Gophers was named the Big Ten's third star of the week. He had two goals and three assists for Minnesota, which was swept by St. Cloud State 3-2 and 7-4.
• Gophers signee Michael Hurt, a 6-6 senior forward for Rochester John Marshall, had 13 points, 12 rebounds, 10 blocks and six assists Tuesday in the Rockets' 68-49 win over Mankato East, according to the Rochester Post-Bulletin.