Oct. 4, 2013
Volleyball Freshman Becker Gaining ExperienceBy David Boyce | Northwest at Southwest Baptist | Friday, Oct. 4 • 7 p.m. | Live Stats
MARYVILLE, Mo. - When Northwest Missouri State volleyball team takes the court 7 p.m. Friday at Southwest Baptist, coach Amy Woerth will no longer see freshman middle hitter Jackie Becker as a freshman.
Becker has two months of practice and 13 matches on her college resume. She has an understanding what it takes to succeed at the college level.
“With any player, you want to see consistent growth,” Woerth said. “For freshmen, they have ups and downs a little more. They are trying to get comfortable. When October comes, they are not really freshmen anymore.
“As soon as someone gets comfortable, which takes a couple of months, your play changes. “I think the rate Jackie is applying herself and the hard work she is giving, nothing but improvement is going to happen. She understands all aspects of the game.”
Becker has already seen enough playing time that she ranks second on the team in blocks.
It is an impressive start when you consider the difficulty of playing middle hitter, a spot in which you are trying neutralize an opponent’s big hitters.
“She is a brick wall,” said junior outside hitter Abby Graves. “She had eight blocks in a game and that is just outstanding for a freshman, especially the middle. That is one of the hardest jobs. You are taking a guess where the setter is going to go. You are reading the setter.”
Given Becker’s high school background, it is easy to understand how she can quickly adapt to college life.
She spent her first two years at Blue Springs South and then transferred to William Chrisman her last two years in high school. Her dad is the principal at William Chrisman.
“South is definitely different than Chrisman,” said Becker, who is from Lee’s Summit, Mo. “It was a big change, but it was for the better. I enjoyed the change.”
Going from high school to college is an even bigger step than changing high schools.
“I have enjoyed living on my own aspect and growing up has been fun. Getting to meet new people is fun, also,” Becker said.
“College volleyball is a faster game. I love that. I love having a family away from my family at home and feeling the support and love from the team.”
This is a key week for the Bearcats to get back to their preseason beliefs. They had four days of practice to regroup and rebound from a tough loss at Fort Hays State on Sept. 28.
“We had a meeting Monday about goals we set at the beginning of the season, our four pillars about making a statement,” Becker said. “We are focusing on what we need to work on and what we need to do as a team to move forward and put those wins together and how we need to stick together in tough situations.”
Becker is one of four freshmen on the roster. There are plenty of upperclassmen for them to turn to for advice.
“They are a rock to lean on when we are getting stressed and stuff,” Becker said. “Our upperclassmen have always been there to answer questions. They are always there to give good advice to us.”
It works both ways, Graves said.
“They ask us, we tell them,” Graves said. “Sometimes we ask them things. We learn a lot from each other, which is good.”
The Bearcats have plenty of time to reach their goals. They are 6-7 overall and 2-2 in the MIAA.
The long string of road games is almost over. In 11 days, Northwest will play its second home match of the season when it takes on Central Missouri on Oct. 15.
“We need to improve, not just one, but all of us,” Woerth said. “Improvement comes in a lot of ways. We need to have focus and focus in practice. We have been on the road so much that sometimes you are always playing catch up with your body, your mind, your schoolwork and sometimes that overloads you.
“This week we have one match the entire week. We are trying to take advantage the time we have to get rested.”
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