Waite digs Dykstra’s tune

first_imgBEN CLASSON/Herald photoThis year’s ninth-ranked UW volleyball team is one of the most talented in the program’s recent history. Few would suspect, however, that any of them had unusual talents off the court.Sophomore Kat Dykstra is not only making a name for herself as a new starter this season, but she is also an accomplished bassoon player.When trying to develop Dykstra’s raw talent, coach Pete Waite compares perfecting the game of volleyball to playing in an orchestra.”She actually has a great background in orchestra, and she plays at a very high level,” Waite said. “So sometimes we talk about the discipline that it takes to learn the instrument that she has played in the past and bring it to the court, because she is phenomenal.”Dykstra is representative of the undeveloped athletic ability many younger UW players possess, having not started playing volleyball until her junior year at New Trier High School in Wilmette, Ill. During that time, the track and basketball standout helped lead her team to two appearances in the state quarterfinals.After redshirting her first year on campus, Dykstra played in 15 matches and made one start last year, averaging .62 blocks and kills per game. She played her best match against UC-Santa Barbara, where she racked up 4 kills and 4 blocks.So far this season, Dykstra has shown much improvement. Through only 20 games played, she has already bettered her season totals from a year ago, accumulating 53 kills for a 2.65 per game average. She has also been averaging a block per game as well. Waite attributes her jump in numbers to both her athletic ability and how quickly she is able to learn the game.”Physically, she is phenomenal. She is probably one of the top two athletes that we have ever had in the program,” Waite said. “As far as top jump reach, she has gone easily eight or nine inches over the basketball rim, if you were to measure that. That is just phenomenal when you are playing a 7-foot-4 inch net. So, she is way up there.”Listed at 6 feet 3 inches, Dykstra’s height and vertical reach are two great attributes she brings to the team. Those weapons have caused the team’s setters to adjust the way they play with her.Senior setter Jackie Simpson set for standouts like former Badger Maria Carlini and sophomore Brittney Dolgner but has had to adjust the way she plays due to Dykstra’s leaping ability.”The biggest difference is Kat can touch 10’7″, so it’s a lot higher,” Simpson said. “A quick attack you set at the same height as a second tempo ball, but it’s a first tempo set. It’s something you really have to adjust to as a setter, getting the height and speed just right.”Dykstra’s play is not only drawing attention from her teammates, but she is also putting on a show for opponents.On UW’s last road trip, the Badgers won the Loyola-Marymount Invitational. In the final game against the Lions, Dykstra recorded 13 kills, good enough to earn her all-tournament team honors. That game stands out for Waite as a turning point in the young season.”Even our first two weekends on the road, we played Northern Iowa, and we got her a lot of balls, and she really dominated the match,” Waite said. “Last weekend we were at Loyola-Marymount, and she really finished the match strong with a couple really great blocks and kills. She is showing us the more sets we get her, the better she will do, and she is going to be a great weapon for us as we head into Big Ten play.”Although Dykstra has made many improvements in her play, she still has a lot to work on, especially because she is so new to the game. One thing that she does is apply the same practice and work ethic that she has when practicing her bassoon to her play on the court.”Everything takes a lot of practice,” Dykstra said. “With music or with volleyball, you have to do things over and over again if you are going to get it right. With my bassoon, it’s so many notes and so many fingerings that don’t make sense at all, and there are some things in volleyball that you don’t understand.”You just have to work through it, and it will make sense eventually. The people teaching you know what they are talking about, and you just got to trust them and work your hardest.”Waite acknowledges that she has a lot to learn and is new to the game. But, like a good musician, he knows that she will work hard and practice so she can be a major contributor as the team works deeper into the season. “She enjoys the whole game, but she is very new to it,” Waite said. “She only started playing with a decent club team her senior year in high school. So everything she does is new and exciting for her. We are challenging her to be better and get tougher all the time. We are trying to get her up to game speed for Big Ten play.”last_img

Leave your comment