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Freshman hitter Stasiuk steps up in first college game

Anne Loughery | Thursday, September 2, 2004

Adrianna Stasiuk doesn’t look like a freshman.

Judging by her performance against Loyola Chicago Wednesday night, Stasiuk could have easily been mistaken for a seasoned veteran. The freshman starter played fearlessly, diving and pivoting for each loose ball as if it were a fragile commodity.

“She has great instincts for the game and she’s very, very quick,” Irish coach Debbie Brown said of her 5-foot-10 freshman. “It’s her agility and quickness that make the plays. She sets a lot of balls and her serving, passing and defense are all very strong. She’s a really steady player all-around.”

Stasiuk made an impact in all corners of the court Wednesday night. In addition to serving five aces – the most made by an Irish player since Kristen Kinder had five against Kentucky in 2001 – Stasiuk frustrated the Rambler offense with her presence at the net, contributing four kills and 14 digs.

Brown said her combined efforts spurred the Irish on to victory.

“She plays defense as well as anyone in the program,” Brown said of the freshman who was a four time All-American in high school. “We really struggled in game three because she felt a little sick and had to sit out. She does a lot of little things that make a difference. We really noticed the difference when she was out.”

Despite such a poised demeanor on the court, Stasiuk admitted that inside, she was full of pregame jitters.

“I was really, really nervous and anxious because it was my first collegiate game,” the Park Ridge, Ill. native said. “When I was sitting in class at the end of the day, I kept thinking about the match.”

On Brown’s wish list for Stasiuk this season is minimizing this sense of anxiety.

“I want her to be more comfortable with her role on the team so she can do what we need her to do on the team,” she said. “It’s really important for our freshmen to realize that it’s still volleyball. While the balls are hit faster at this level, it’s just a game at the end of the day.”

The freshman’s next test will come in this weekend’s match against No. 2 Nebraska. It’s no secret that defeating the Cornhuskers will be a daunting task.

But Stasiuk anticipates the challenge.

“We’re really excited for the Nebraska match,” she said. “I’m not as nervous anymore because we’re the underdogs in that match, so we don’t have anything to lose.”