Late bloomer Robison dominates middle for Wolverines

Senior middle blocker Dani Robison, recently named the GWC Player of the Week, has been a staple on the Wolverine front line. Shane Maryott/UVU Review

Most athletes pick up a ball, swing a bat or begin kicking around the ball at a very young age, but it’s just the opposite for Dani Robison.

Volleyball didn’t enter Robison’s life until high school.

As a freshman at Orem high, Robison was a dancer and had played just about every other sport besides volleyball until her height was noticed.

“The coach just saw that I was tall and said ‘come play’ and I fell in love with it,” Robison said.

From there, volleyball captured the 6-foot-1 Robison’s heart and landed her a spot on Utah Valley’s roster as a middle blocker beginning as a redshirt in 2006.

The following season as a freshman, Robison played in 26 matches, averaging 1.03 kills per game and had a season high 13 kills in a match against St. Francis.

Robison’s sophomore season saw her start 16 matches and play in 25. Robison was named to Great West Conference Fall All-Academic Team and finished her sophomore year with 42 kills and 35 block assists.

In the following season as a junior, Robison battled injury, but rose above it and more than doubled her previous year’s totals in kills and blocks with 97 and 77, respectively.

Despite fighting nagging injuries during her junior year, Robison came back strong for her final season.

“Dani’s really stepped it up,” Coach Sam Atoa said. “Dani was very, very determined through the summertime to come in and really help make a difference and she definitely has done that.”

Working hard over the summer proved what Robison was working for: a stellar final season.

“She really took it to heart in being able to work and being dedicated, and it’s fun to be able to see her progress both mentally and physically on the court for us, and its been very much needed for us,” Atoa said. “It’s great to be able to see her determination and her hard work pay off.”

Robison favors this season over the rest, saying, “We’ve had a great, tight team this year. We all get along great and it has been up and down, but it’s probably been my favorite season. Not only because I’ve gotten more playing time this year, but just honestly, the girls. That’s my favorite part about being here, the team. I couldn’t do it without them.”

One of those “ups” took place earlier this season as UVU beat in-state opponent Utah State, undefeated at the time, in a five-set match.

“That [Utah State game] was probably the most intense game we’ve ever played,” Robison said with a grin. “It was great team bonding and just the most exciting game ever.”

Team bonding is one reason Robison chose to continue in volleyball over other sports she played. “The team aspect of [volleyball],” Robison said. “Just being on the team with six people on the court. I don’t know what it was. Just the love of the game, I guess.”

Beginning to play at a later age hasn’t stopped Robison, and she’s grateful for where it has taken her.

“A lot of girls start at the age of 12. I didn’t start ‘till later, so the fact that I was able to get recruited and come here was the biggest thing for me and just getting playing time and being on the court.”

Robison will play her final home match this Friday at 7 p.m. against conference opponent Texas-Pan American before competing in her final Great West Conference championships in Chicago Nov. 19-21.

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