Sept. 24, 2008
From Square One to the Starting Six
She wanted to be in shape for basketball, and didn't enjoy cross country, so in her junior year, Iesha Haskins joined the volleyball team at Speedway High School in Indianapolis.
Haskins had the raw ability, but never played volleyball competitively before. Her only exposure to the sport was through middle school physical education classes and she lacked the technical skills of passing, attack approaching and serving.
Andrea King, the head coach at Speedway, didn't mind the lack of experience. She finally had Haskins on the team after encouraging her to join through her first two years of high school. Haskins earned West Central Conference honors as a senior while still relying on natural ability.
"In high school, I never thought I would go to college and play volleyball," said Haskins. "It was just something to do. I was more of a track or basketball athlete."
But a basketball injury in her senior season caused Haskins to refocus her efforts. King, who was the Northwest assistant coach during Haskins' senior season, encouraged Haskins to become a Bearcat. Even through a coaching change, which included the departure of King, Haskins joined the team under new Head Coach Anna Tool in 2006.
Haskins entered with quick feet and a high vertical, but only two years of experience. Tool redshirted Haskins to allow her another year to develop.
"We started from square one," said Tool. "It was really just breaking things down so she could have those basic reps and feel comfortable with the fundamentals before she could move onto anything else. She's very coachable and wants to get her game better and better."
Even with her technical shortcomings, Tool and Assistant Coach Steph Martin (now assistant AD) continued to work with Haskins and stressed the positive improvements of her game.
"Neither let me get down on myself if I thought I wasn't good enough," said Haskins. "They would point out the positives that I did have."
Haskins played in five matches her freshman season. Against Newman, she had eight kills on nine attempts in her first extended performance. She only managed two more kills in her other four matches of the season.
"I never felt the urge to go home my freshman year," said Haskins. "I wasn't discouraged that I wasn't playing, because I knew where my skill level was compared to everyone else on the team. I just didn't think I was ready."
This season, Haskins played in the first match of the season, but only had one kill on four attempts. In her second match against Minnesota-Crookston, she had a career-high 14 kills and hit .300. Two matches later, she made her first collegiate start against Mary.
"I never thought I would be here," said Haskins. "Not even when coach would tell me I would be looking to play or looking to start. I never believed her. I was like okay, you keep talking."
Since then, she's made seven more starts and played in every Bearcat match this season. She ranks fourth on the team with 94 kills.
"I'm happy and I'm amazed to come as far as I have," said Haskins. "I came from not being able to pass to actually passing and serve receiving against different teams."
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