Sophomore Jasmine Nicholson doesn’t serve a volleyball like she’s 5-feet, 2-inches.Her serve packs a powerful punch, one easily noticed if you’re seeing it for the first time. She’s smaller than her teammates and admittedly shy. But her play proves that it’s not always about the biggest or strongest in sports.
But it wasn’t like the sport came naturally to Nicholson. Like anyone, she has to work hard at her craft. She began playing volleyball as a freshman, so technically, in just her second season, she’s still picking up the sport.
“I remember when I started volleyball in ninth grade,” Nicholson said. “I wasn’t that good, I would say. I’ve come a long way. It’s been rough for me.”
When she first started, she served underhanded, which is a hard way to put power behind a serve. After a month she made the switch to overhand. With time and practice, she’s been able to put pace on the ball while controlling where the ball goes.
One player Nicholson has been able to learn from is senior Meleisa Alston, who begins matches serving for the Lady Rams. Against Patterson last week, Alston opened with an ace. She won nine points on serve for the Lady Rams in Digital Harbor’s 3-1 victory over PattersonÕs Lady Clippers. In the same match, Nicholson won 10 points on serve, including an impressive streak of winning six in a row in the second set.
Alston began playing volleyball with Digital Harbor as a sophomore. She is the only returning member on the varsity team this year, in what is considered a rebuilding season.
Unlike Nicholson, Alston went straight to serving overhand when she began playing. She wanted a powerful serve from the start.
“I could never get the concept of underhand,” Alston said. “When I hit overhand (as a sophomore), I had too much power, so it tends to go out sometimes. But over the last two years I’ve learned how to control it.”
Alston, Digital Harbor’s captain, has provided help and advice to Nicholson. Though Nicholson is just a sophomore, she’s become a bit of a team leader herself along with Alston.
“They’ve kind of become the setters by default,” said Digital Harbor coach Vera Carrington-Johnson. “That’s why I play them opposite of each other, so one is at the net and the other can pass. The two of them have been helping each other. They warm up together. I know Jasmine can go to her if she has questions.”
After this season, Nicholson could assume a larger leadership role on the volleyball team with Alston graduating. But when it comes to taking the next step in her game, Nicholson said she hopes she can be like her friend in the years to come.
“I hope that I will be up to her level by my senior year,” Nicholson said.
by Jason Butt