In her inaugural season, freshman outside hitter Sam Yancy is playing like a veteran member of the Truman State University volleyball team.
Yancy started all four years in high school and still holds the record for 1,457 career kills at Howards Grove High School in Wisconsin. During her high school career, she was awarded honors such as Big East Conference Player of the Year, second-team All State, WIAA All-Tournament Team, unanimous first-team All-Conference, and the team’s offensive award.
Some of her highs this season include 19 digs against Drury University, 15 kills against the University of Southern Indiana and 3 aces against Saginaw Valley State University.
Yancy said her love for volleyball began when she was in fifth grade, much of which can be credited to her mom, who was her first coach and shared her passion for the game with Yancy. Even though they’re related, Yancy said her mother is completely honest and critiques Yancy so she performs to her potential.
Because Yancy is from Wisconsin, her family doesn’t get many opportunities to watch her play. However, her mom always livestreams her games and she offers advice and support along the way. Like many athletes and their sports, Yancy said volleyball has become an oasis of comfort in the craziness of her life.
“Volleyball, to me, has become an escape from everything else going on in my life and really helps me now more than ever now that I’m in college,” Yancy said. “I couldn’t imagine not playing volleyball in college.”
Throughout high school, her coach taught her to be disciplined and what her role was on the court. She said her high school career taught her how to deal with being on a larger stage.
One role model she has always had is University of Wisconsin-Madison’s outside hitter Kelli Bates. Yancy said she is a shorter outside hitter in the Big Ten Conference regularly facing taller women and still managed more than 1,000 kills in her career. She said this motivated her to be better.
Yancy said her mindset each game is to go in with really high confidence. She said she realized how much more she could improve when she arrived at Truman.
Yancy has found her home at Truman, and it’s going to be an exciting four years of watching her grow and mold into the best player she can be. Yancy said she has high hopes for her future as a Bulldog.
“Even bigger than the game itself, my love for the team and the girls that I play with just shoots through the roof,” Yancy said. “The connection we have on the court doesn’t even begin to show how well we all fit together off of it. They really have all become my sisters.”
Natalie Brimeyer, junior team captain and middle hitter, said Yancy is energetic and hardworking, which is contagious on the court. Brimeyer said Yancy has already become a vocal leader on the court and is constantly giving her teammates confidence.
“It’s exciting and rewarding to watch her grow as a volleyball player,” Brimeyer said. “I can’t wait to see how much more her volleyball skills can develop during her four years here.”
Head coach Ben Briney said Yancy has found success early in her career. A big difference between high school and college volleyball is the speed of the game. He said he never really knows how the incoming freshmen will pick up on the change in game pace.
While some struggle more than others, Briney said it has been a very quick adjustment for Yancy which has allowed her to be effective and efficient early in her collegiate athletic career.
“One of her biggest strengths is her fire,” Briney said. “That really helps her even when she is struggling to compete.”
Another key factor was the quality of training she got in high school. Yancy came from a good high school program that prepared her for the collegiate game by competing at a higher level. Briney said the program knew that Yancy would pick up the speed of the game to compete right away.
Because of her training before college, Yancy didn’t have to go through quite as many growing pains as many freshmen do. Although she has had to work through a few trials and technical changes of her own, she has done a good job of smiling through struggles.
“She’s someone that [at] every point is competing and that really has fun and enjoys playing the game of volleyball,” Briney said. “So those have been big strengths that have helped her keep a smile on her face.”
Briney said Yancy has already made a huge impact on the Bulldog volleyball team in just the short time she has been here, so there are high hopes for what is to come in the future. He said he believes that Yancy has the passion and work ethic to become a player the team depends on in the future.