Visit to Cal Changed Mind of Freshman Volleyball Player Jillian Davis
Oct. 7, 2003
BERKELEY, CA - Golden Bear volleyball player Jillian Davis had no intention on attending Cal. But one visit to the idyllic Berkeley campus changed her mind in rapid fashion.
Now, Davis and her California volleyball team are changing the minds of the national pollsters as the No. 9 ranked Bears (14-0, 6-0) are off to their best start in school history. Cal will host a pair of Bay Area rivals this week at Haas Pavilion, taking on No. 14 ranked Santa Clara, Wednesday, Oct. 8 at 7 p.m., and No. 4 ranked Stanford, Saturday, Oct. 11 at 3 p.m.
Davis, Cal's 5-9 freshman libero, really had no intention of attending the University of California after graduating from Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy in La Canada, Calif. In her mind, she was looking to attend a university closer to her home in Southern California, or maybe even attend one of the prestigious schools out of state, such as Duke or Notre Dame. But, lo and behold, Davis stepped onto the Berkeley campus and her future plans changed dramatically.
'I was not considering Cal at all after high school,' said Davis. 'I came over with my sister, Kendra, not expecting to like Berkeley, but I ended up liking it a lot. I was visiting my sister, who had gone to UCLA, and we decided to come over from San Francisco the weekend of the UCLA-Cal football game. We went to the UCLA-Cal men's water polo match and there seemed to be a million people there - all decked out in blue and gold. Then the Bears won the football game. It just seemed so fun. The atmosphere was just so exciting.'
With her interest in Cal changing 180 degrees, Davis inquired about how to become a member of the Bears' volleyball team. She went straight to the source, visiting head coach Rich Feller in his office, and introduced herself.
'I told Rich I was interested in coming to Cal and gave him a tape of me playing volleyball,' said Davis, who was first team All-CIF and had 404 digs as a high school senior at Flintridge Sacred Heart. 'He called me back about a week or so later and said he had a spot on the team for me.'
From there, Davis has done an outstanding job of taking advantage of her opportunity to play Pac-10 volleyball. She has been the Bears' starting libero, which is basically a designated back row player, and is one of the team's leader in digs with 140 in 14 matches. Davis is also among the Pac-10 leaders in digs, ranking ninth with a 3.11 per game average. She has led the Bears in digs in seven of 14 matches, and has had 10 or more digs eight times this season.
'Jillian brings a tremendous amount of energy and enthusiasm to the court for us,' said Feller. 'They way she has adapted to the speed of the college game as our libero has contributed greatly to the success of our team this year.'
An early career highlight for Davis had to be Cal's 3-0 victory at Oregon on Sept. 18 in Eugene, when she recorded an impressive 26 digs in a three-game match - the second most single match digs by a Pac-10 player this season.
'We were in our rotation defense and I was playing left back, and I just got hit to a lot,' explained Davis. 'When I'm on the court, I don't think about the number of digs I'm getting, I just react. A lot of it is positioning - knowing where I am supposed to be on the court. Like assistant coach Lee Maes says, 'it is all about preparation.' Lee has been teaching me a lot about technique and control. Before in high school, I wasn't using proper technique. I am really still trying to improve on my technique.'
Davis is also working on handling the challenges of being a student-athlete at one of the most demanding academic institutions in the nation.
'I love being here at Cal,' said Davis about America's No. 1 public university (U.S. News & World Report). 'School is tough and it is really challenging to balance academics and athletics. When I first arrived for preseason volleyball practice, for awhile it was like summer camp. I now realize I came here to actually work on academics as well as volleyball. I love this team and everything has really come together for me. I now realize I'm going to be here for four years and I'm looking forward to it.'
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