Sept. 2, 2010
1,000 career digs!
That’s not easy — a thousand of anything never is.
What can you say about an achievement like that?
Georgia Tech senior Jordan McCullers couldn’t say much of anything about it following the match during which she made No. 1,000, a 3-0 whitewash of Alabama A&M last Saturday at O’Keefe Gymnasium.
“I actually did know it was coming,” said McCullers, who said she doesn’t know exactly when she got it. “After the match, fans came down and were kind of hinting ‘Maybe you got your 1000th dig.’ I knew it was close.”
She’s quite proud of the achievement, even though she and other members of the Volleyball team have had trouble putting it in context with achievements in other sports.
But, that lack of information wasn’t what left McCullers silent.
It was volleyball, in general, and her enthusiasm during matches, specifically, that left the senior from Kennesaw and Harrison High School speechless, or at least voiceless.
The sport can be as hard on her voice as it is on her body, which she relentlessly throws around in pursuit of the ball. On this day, voice appeared to be behind on the judges’ cards.
So, which suffers more?
“That’s a really tough question,” she said in a voice that could pass for Kathleen Turner in a blind test. “This is good, too. You should have heard me [Monday] and Sunday. I literally couldn’t talk. But honestly, I would say my body. As bad as I sound right now, I think my body probably feels a good bit worse.”
It’s no mystery why. As a Libero and defensive specialist, McCullers plays full tilt on every point and is always on alert. Every time opposing setters put a set in the air, every time a hitter winds up for a spike or dinks a ball over the block, it’s a signal to prepare to hit the floor.
“At this point it’s a mixture of instinct and determination,” said McCullers, who recorded 40 digs in the season-opening Georgia Tech Courtyard Marriott Classic, to earn a place on the All-Tournament team and be named the Tournament’s Most Valuable Libero. “I know I’m the last line of defense. If the ball gets past the block and past the people in front of me, I’m all there is. So I just know that I can not let that ball hit the floor. If that means throwing my body on the floor then that’s what I have to do. At this point, it’s kind of instinctual to just go for it, no matter what it takes.”
What it takes is a physical toll. Yet, she has not missed a match in her career — a streak that is up to 96 matches.
“It takes a toll on your body, for sure, just bumps and bruises all the time,” she said. “It’s tough sometimes to get through that but you just have to keep putting in the work. You get used to it, you know how to dive, so that it doesn’t injure your body to the extent that it would if you just threw your body on the floor. It’s just being resilient and when you’re off the court, taking care of your body and getting your treatments done that they make mandatory for you, but they really do help.”
McCullers should be back to health and voice (temporarily) when the Volleybeez take the floor in Manhattan, Kan., as part of the Varney’s Kansas State Invitational, which includes Oral Roberts (an 11:00 a.m. start on Friday), Loyola Marymount (6:30 on Friday) and host Kansas State (8:00 p.m. on Saturday).
While she admitted she doesn’t know a whole lot about the Golden Eagles (2-2), who are picked for seventh in the Summit League, but who took Arkansas to five sets, the Lions (2-1), picked for last in the West Coast Conference, and the Wildcats (1-3), picked for ninth in the Big 12, McCullers feels that the team learned plenty about itself in last weekend’s tournament.
“It will help a ton in the fact that our team put a 3-0 win over two teams in a row, coming off of a loss,” she said. “Coming off a five-game loss is tough to do. It’s really hard, especially that big of a turnaround, in less than 24 hours to play two matches is tough.
“I think our team is kind of on a high right now,” she added. “We got a tough loss under our belt. We didn’t like the way that tasted. We got two strong victories. We like the way that tasted. So now we’re ready for more.”