Sophomore middle hitter Kris Harris of the Elon University volleyball team was named offensive player of the week for the week of Sept. 4. The award is the first offensive award of Harris’ career, but as a freshman, she received both a Southern Conference defensive player of the week and a freshman player of the week award.
Volleyball head coach Mary Tendler said the award says good things about the entire team having won an award so early in the season.
“I think any time one of our players gets an award, it’s an honor for the whole team,” she said. “She had a great game against NC Central, Gardner-Webb and (North Carolina) A&T. She had great numbers. She was pretty unstoppable for the slides.”
In order to utilize a middle hitter, the pass and set have to be nearly perfect. Harris said she could not be hitting the ball like she is without the entire team’s effort.
“The pass is the first contact on our side, which determines whether you are going to get a hit or have to do something else,” Harris said. “Ana (Nicksic) has been setting great, so I would not have been able to get this without both the pass and the set.”
As a new setter to the team, Tendler said she has seen great strides from Nicksic even though there is still some room for improvement. She’s been especially happy with the sets from Nicksic to Harris.
“Ana has been having some great connections with her, especially on the slide attack,” Tendler said. “It’s really hard to come in as a freshman and be a setter. The terminology is different, and you have all new hitters to get used to. Ana has just kept improving during preseason and in the matches and she looks more and more comfortable every time she steps out on the court.”
Harris recorded 40 kills total in the four matches during the week prior to Sept. 4 with the Phoenix only dropping one match. The loss was to national powerhouse University of Alabama.
Harris agrees that Nicksic has been a huge part of her success on the front line.
“I feel like with me and her we kind of have a chemistry already,” Harris said. “We have played together at camps and our off the court chemistry helps a lot too. She is quick about picking up what ball is best to set to me.”
Tendler said teams usually have a higher efficiency from the middle and the right side because they are quicker sets, making them harder to defend.
Tendler said with senior captain Ali Deatsch in her fourth season as libero and senior defensive specialist Maggie Reichard in the back row, everyone else on the court gets a little more confidence.
Nicksic said the passers have really helped her as she grows accustomed to her new hitters.
“Passing has been awesome, and that makes it so much easier to run an offense and establish the middle hitters and that’s Kris,” she said. “It’s basically (Kris) is just like set it up and I’ll hit it. I trust her a lot with the ball, and she is doing a really good job of being able to terminate.”
Right now, Tendler said she knows Harris is more comfortable in the middle where she is able to put up big numbers. What she is looking for from Harris is to be consistent as they go through the season.
As for Harris, she said this award only encourages her to continue playing hard for the rest of the season.
“It motivates me to keep trying my best and keep pushing for the good of the team,” she said. “I’m just giving it all for my team so we can reach our goals. Whatever is needed on the court is what I will do.”