Smith adjusting well to college volleyball


Jason Howell

Freshman outside hitter/setter Taylor Smith had two kills in four sets played during the Panthers' 3-1 loss to Indiana State on Sept. 1 in Lantz Arena

Sean Hastings, Assistant Sports Editor

Taylor Smith, a freshman from Mattoon, has had to learn college volleyball and has succeeded at it through her first seven games at Eastern.

Smith is an outside hitter/setter but can play just about anywhere on the court, and she is counted on to get the job done.

“She’s had to play a couple different roles for us,” coach Sam Wolinski said. “That’s part of Taylor’s versatility. She can pass, she can play defense, she can swing out of the back row, she can set, and she can swing out of the front row.”

Wolinski added that it is nice to be able to tell Smith to go do something on the court, and she will always go out there and do it the best she can, ‘no questions asked.’

Last weekend, Smith was shining in the back row and was able to earn some points for the Panthers.

Wolinski said soon everyone is going to see the full part of Smith’s game and what she can actually bring to the table.

“It’s going to be exciting,” she said.

Smith’s adjustment to playing at the college level has been made easier by the upperclassmen on the team who have been helping her.

“My first match I was actually really nervous,” Smith said. “I wasn’t really sure what to expect in my first game, but after playing with all the girls being so welcoming, they definitely make the process easier.”

She showed her versatility in that first match by doing a little bit of everything on the court.

Smith had three kills, two assists and eight digs in the match against Illinois- Chicago.

Her success on the court contributed to the team winning the University of Indiana-Purdue at Fort Wayne Invitational Aug. 28-29.

She finished with seven kills, and 19 digs in the three matches over the weekend.

Even though she is succeeding in her first seven matches, Smith said the speed of the game is totally different than in high school.

She said she is also trying to get used to playing with everyone on the team.

But one thing that amazes Smith when they have a match is the atmosphere of college volleyball.

While Smith is still adjusting to college volleyball, Wolinski said her versatility gives her a leadership role even as a freshman.

“She has no fear in her,” Wolinski said. “I think that’s a great attribute to bring to the floor.”

If Smith makes a mistake, she does not let it bother her and she just goes out there and gets the next one.

That is another place where Smith brings in a leadership role. She said she always has a positive attitude and brings a lot of energy to the team.

Other teams have targeted Smith on the serve-receive because they see a freshman standing out there, but Wolinski said she has done a great job handling that.

Smith knows during her freshman year she has a chance to make a name for herself, and she said every time she goes out on the court she is going to give it all she has.

She wants to prove to everyone that she should be out there playing in her first year as a Panther.

Smith and the rest of the Panthers will be on the road again this weekend when they travel to the Dayton Invitational in Dayton, Ohio.


Sean Hastings can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]