Sophomore prepares for home openers against Idaho State and Weber State on Friday (Sept. 24) at 7 p.m. and Saturday (Sept. 25) at 7 p.m., respectively.
After 11-straight road games, the Eastern Washington University volleyball team will host their first home game on Friday (Sep. 24), and sophomore Shelby Puckett says a home-court advantage couldn’t come at a better time.
Puckett has played every rotation in every game this season, which has led her to some team-leading stats. Puckett has been the main offensive threat for the Eagles, as she averages 2.88 kills per set. She has tallied 115 total kills over 11 matches, including a career-high 21 against Seattle (Aug. 28). She has hit in double-digits in four consecutive outings and has recorded four double-doubles this season. Puckett has also contributed 102 total digs (2.55 dps), which ranks third on the team.
Though only a sophomore, Puckett has proved herself worthy as an Eagle, posing a dominant force on the court and in the weight room. She won the Emtman Award this season, an honor awarded by the head strength and conditioning coach for exhibiting strong work ethic, perseverance, character and a team-first attitude.
Though it seems like the Eagle have hit a road-block, as their overall record sits at 1-10, Puckett says that getting a win this weekend in front of a home crowd would be the start to a turn-around.
Q: The Eagles have played on the road for 11-straight games, how does it feel to finally be playing in front of a home crowd on Reese Court this weekend?
A: “I think it is exactly what we need right now. I think we’re all comfortable in the home setting. It will be so much nicer, coming into our own gym, practicing for an hour in a familiar environment, and then doing our thing.”
Q: You have played every rotation of every game this season. What do you think the team’s strengths and weaknesses are on the court?
A: “I feel like we’re not necessarily the type of team that will come out, crazy and screaming, with a ton of energy. But we have a focused energy – that is what we bring to the floor. We definitely have leaders out there, but I think everyone contributes in their own way. We all have different roles this year than we did in the past, and we’re still adjusting to that, but I feel we have a very strong team”
Q: You usually play right-side, but recently made a switch to hitting on the left side. What kinds of adjustments did you have make?
A: “Playing on the left side took some getting used to because there are usually two blocks, compared to one on the right, where I’m used to swinging away at a single. I have had to adjust a little because I don’t want to get ‘roofed’. For me, it’s getting reps and getting more comfortable in practice. And I’m getting there. It’s about knowing my shots and getting savvier than I had to be on the right side.”
Q: You won the Emtman Award this season, which is given to a volleyball student-athlete who displays a strong work ethic in the weight room. Did you lift in high school? Do you feel like your work in the weight room since you’ve been in college has helped your output on the court?
A: “I lifted some in high school, but I didn’t have a coach that talked a lot about form. After Jeff [Carroll] worked with me last year, I feel like I really nailed my form and was able to push the weight. I can’t really tell if I’m hitting harder but I definitely feel a difference in my jumping ability.”
Q: What were some of your personal goals for the season? What about team goals?
A: “This weekend is definitely a start for us. We need to get a win under our belt because right now we’ve hit a block. We need to have that winning feeling again. As far as me, I want to be more active in the back row. It’s more pressure having more jobs but I think I am ready to take that on and I want to take that on.”
Q: Who was your childhood hero?
A: “I was always a big fan of Misty May and the beach volleyball scene, especially throughout the Olympics. My parents were also great throughout high school. Getting me to this point involved a lot of travelling. Dragging me around to club tournaments every weekend was often a challenge. I wouldn’t have been able to do any of it without them.”
Q: What is your hidden talent?
A: “That’s tough. I don’t really have one. When we had to do our freshman talent show last year, we struggled because none of us were good at anything beside volleyball.”
Q: Do you have any fears?
A: “I hate little birds. I don’t like it when they get close to me.”