For junior Erica Nish, this year presents a chance for redemption after an injury-riddled 2010-11 campaign.
The junior middle blocker is already taking advantage.
After garnering 17 kills in three games at the Wolverine Invitational, Nish went for a team-high 15 in Wednesday’s game alone against the Slovenian national team. The Wolverines went on to lose in four sets, but head coach Sam Atoa expressed optimism for Nish’s development with setter Brookelyn Campbell.
“It was great to be able to see that connection between Brookelyn and Erica. That’s what we expect from them and they did a really nice job.”
Those expectations come thanks to a roster boasting just five upperclassmen, with Nish being the only junior on the squad. After starting just 11 matches in her first two years combined, she started all four games going into the La Quinta Inn & Suites Invitational last weekend. With the team seeking wins amidst transition, Nish admitted she looked forward to a bigger role.
“I still have so much to work on, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to step up,” Nish said. “I look forward to that kind of opportunity.”
Her certainty stems from her initial decision to play at UVU, something she settled on as early as her junior year in high school. During an unofficial tour on campus, Nish felt at home far sooner than she planned.
“It sounds corny, but it just felt right,” she said.
The on-court results have supported that this season. Nish and fellow middle blocker Sarah Clement have teamed up to give the Wolverines a formidable one-two punch at the net to support outside blockers Jaicee Kuresa and Chelsey Heaps. If Nish’ development continues, the offense can stay afloat while the underclassmen get comfortable.
Nish, along with the seniors, should provide a solid example for the younger players to follow. She deems herself “serious” on the court, a quality that extends from Atoa’s in-game demeanor. Nish labeled the coaching staff a big reason for her coming to Utah Valley, something that should pay dividends next season when, barring walk-ons, she will be the only senior on the roster.
“The coaching staff really impressed me,” Nish said. “We connected really well and we still do.”
Atoa and the Wolverines can only hope she contin