Super Sophomore back for more

first_imgAt this time last year, sophomore Audra Jeffers was a relative unknown to volleyball fans around the country. Now, after an outstanding freshman season where she led all Badgers with 3.38 kills per game and made the All-Big Ten freshman team, she is finally getting some well-deserved recognition.”It definitely was [an honor to make the All-Big Ten freshman team],” Jeffers said. “I think that it was a personal goal of mine — just to come out and show that I’m ready to play, ready to go. After redshirting, I was just really anxious to get out on the court.”Before starting last year, Jeffers took a redshirt season to get used to a new position and continue to improve her game.”[Redshirting] helped by just giving me extra practice time, extra time in the weight room, time to get stronger,” Jeffers said. “I also had [time to get] used to playing a different position. I came in as a middle blocker then moved to the outside and right side.”Head coach Pete Waite also thinks the redshirt season helped her because she didn’t start playing volleyball until ninth grade.”It was great because she really lifted hard in the weight room and got really stronger,” Waite said. “She was able to hone her skills on the court and get her academics all set. It was perfect for her and it gave her another year experience because she was kind of [a] late starter in high school and club.”Her successful rookie season earned her a spot on the preseason All-Big Ten team this year — the only Badger to receive the honor. “I think our team deserves more recognition than just one player,” Jeffers said. “We are just a well-balanced team. Of course to be on it is a great honor but I just wish some of my other teammates would’ve gotten on it also.”Following her storybook frosh campaign however, Jeffers was dealt a setback this offseason when she suffered stress and hairline fractures in her back.”It set me back this summer because I wasn’t able to practice or play or work out for that matter,” Jeffers said. While most would just use sideline time to rest, Jeffers instead used the time to continue to learn the game of volleyball.”It was tough but I tried to do everything I could,” Jeffers said. “I asked coaches for tapes so I could be watching and still learning throughout the summer.”Now that she is back on the playing court, Waite and the rest of the Badgers are just glad to have her back.”We are really happy she is even out here, considering she was in a back brace for most of the summer,” Waite said. “It took us all of preseason to even get her on the court and feeling healthy. “She went through knee pain, a stomach pull and a shoulder problem just because her muscles were getting back in the grove of playing full time. I still think she is only about 90 percent right now. If we can continue to keep her on the court and healthy she will get stronger every week.”Even though she in not completely at 100 percent yet, Waite said she is still very important to the team’s success this year.”We need her to be playing stronger throughout the Big Ten season and have a great run in the NCAA tournament,” Waite said. “We also need to be careful though because if we push her too hard, she will be on the sideline not being able to contribute.”Jeffers now looks to continue to get healthy and improve her game as the season goes on.”I want to be strong with my blocking,” she said. “I think last year I really improved toward the end of the season so I want to just pick up from there and keep improving and continue to be an offensive threat for my team.”last_img

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