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JM star athlete will spike for Gophers

By Donny Henn

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

Volleyball wasn’t exactly Jasmine Dittrich’s first love.

"I used to be a basketball fanatic, and I didn’t think anything would tear me away from that," she explained.

"I used to make fun of my friends who played volleyball."

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That was then.

Now the Rochester John Marshall senior is looking forward to the opportunity to play volleyball at the highest college level at the University of Minnesota.

Dittrich, a 5-foot-11 leaper who starred at middle hitter for JM volleyball teams the last two years, has made a verbal commitment to the Gophers and longtime coach Mike Hebert. She will sign an official letter of intent on April 8.

Dittrich, who also plays basketball and runs track at JM, is believed to be the first Rochester girl to play volleyball for the Gophers.

JM volleyball coach Amir Dzmalija said that Gophers associate head coach Scott Swanson attended many JM volleyball matches this past season, recruiting Dittrich.

Dittrich said she got scholarship offers from some other Division I schools, including Hoefstra University in New York, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and North Dakota State University.

"Once the U contacted me, that was my only choice," Dittrich said. "When I was younger my parents took me to a lot of Gophers basketball games, and I got introduced to the environment and just fell in love with the place."

Dittrich and her parents, Andrea and Steve, moved to Rochester from Arkansas when she was 8. She said she instantly fell in love with Minnesota.

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"I don’t want to go far from home, and that was a big factor in my decision," she said. "It’s nice, because my parents will probably never miss any of my (college) games."

Dittrich said she will receive a full-ride scholarship from Minnesota, with a fifth year if needed. She is undecided what her major area of study will be.

Dittrich has a remarkable 32-inch vertical leap, and a vertical touch of 10 feet, 6 inches. She said that Gophers coach Mike Hebert will give her the opportunity to play middle hitter, which is her favorite position.

"I’ll be probably be undersized in the middle, but I love the challenge," Dittrich said.

Dittrich joins a Gophers program that finished 27-7 last season and was ranked No. 10 when it was upset by Iowa State in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Four seniors were on the team, which had its most wins since 2004.

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