Oct. 9, 2010
It’s ironic that junior middle blocker Asia Stawicka (pronounced AH-sha Stah-VEETZ-kuh) has made a great career blocking the volleyball.
Growing up in Warsaw, Poland, she seemed more determined to block volleyball out.
“I started playing when I was 14. I was forced to by my physical education teacher because I was tall, skinny and quick,” she said. “I didn’t like it because everybody on my team knew how to hit and how to pass and I just knew how to set. I was upset with that. It was really miserable for me. But after a year, I learned some technique and improved a lot, I found I could actually play the game. It took some time to improve then I fell I love with it.”
It’s an all-out love-fest now. Her first love on the floor is blocking.
At 6-2, Stawicka came into this weekend leading the Yellow Jackets with 73.0 blocks, and 1.20 blocks per set, good for fifth in the ACC. She is only 45 blocks and five block assists away from cracking the school’s career top-10 in both categories. This is despite missing nearly half of her freshman year with an elbow injury.
She sent a message about being on a mission in this, her junior year on September 17 and 18 at the Clemson Classic, when she made a team-high 20 blocks (4 solos). Twice she’s set the team’s season-high with nine blocks and she’s had at least five blocks in five different matches.
Credit for her success this year goes to the team’s blocking scheme.
“We changed the technique. We’re swing blocking, which is quicker and more effective and efficient,” said Stawicka, who averaged 1.08 blocks as a freshman and 1.09 last season. “I’m more comfortable and more confident blocking and I think that’s why I’ve improved. It took some time to get adjusted to it and get more comfortable with outsides and right sides to play together and have a solid double-block.”
“Blocking is the hardest skill of the game,” said senior setter Mary Ashley Tippins. “Asia has a great ability to close the block, get a touch on the ball to help our defense out behind her which results in good transition and most likely a kill.”
Improved chemistry with Tippins is another key to her success.
“`We’ve been working a lot together to get the right rhythm and I think now it’s showing,” she said. “It’s exciting to see. Practice shows we are capable of great things.”
Those great things aren’t limited to blocking. Stawicka also is having her best collegiate season hitting. She came into this weekend leading the team with a .370 hitting percentage (sixth in the conference). She hit a season-high .462 on Sept. 26 against Wake Forest and last weekend led the team in hitting both at Virginia, where she hit .600, then at Virginia Tech, where she converted at a .412 clip.
Stawicka believes that last weekend’s road sweep, including the come-from-behind, five-set thriller over the Hokies, gave the team something to build on heading into this weekend’s match-ups at Miami Friday night and in Tallahassee against No. 20 Florida State Sunday afternoon.
“I think now we are more capable, we’re more focused,” she said. “We know that we have to take control of the game right from the beginning. We are focused, we are high-energy and everything shows that we are prepared for playing these good teams this weekend.”
The trip started on a good note, as the Volleybees toppled the Hurricanes in a tough five-setter, winning 17-25, 25-22, 25-21, 23-25, 15-8.
They hope to repeat last year’s success in Tallahassee, where they won an incredible five-setter (19-25, 27-25, 15-25, 27-25, 16-14), which proved to be the Seminoles’ lone ACC loss.
In addition to closing out consecutive weekend road sweeps Sunday, Tech has a lot more at stake the rest of the way.
“We still have a chance to win the ACC and still want to get to the NCAAs,” Stawicka said. “But now we put more focus on each practice and each game.
“Play one point at a time. Just play Georgia Tech volleyball,” she added. “We just want to play our best and see what happens.”