Defensive Specialist Riley Plays Beyond Her Years

Sept. 2, 2010


By Sara Kruger

Freshman Brianne Riley lived up to her title — defensive specialist — in the Jayhawks volleyball game Tuesday evening against UKMC. Her coverage and constant vocal support helped lead to the Jayhawks’ 25-20 win in the first set, 25-10 win in the second set, and 25-16 in the third set, leading to an overall victory for the team.

Senior outside hitter Karina Garlington said that Riley has added a mentality the Jayhawks have not had since she’s been here.

“She is constantly talking,” Garlington said. “I always hear her voice behind me and it gives me a lot of confidence because I know she’s there and playing hard.”

Riley is also known to have a curious ritual before the game, pumping the team up with random screaming.

“Usually a lot of it is jibber-jabber, but it gets people going and fired up as opposed to it being silent on the court.” Riley said, “A lot of times I am just yelling out things that I see and I feel it gets a lot of the team more engaged and focused.”

Riley has played like a veteran early in the season, recording 20 digs. It is evident that she has played since she was in fifth grade — volleyball, to her, comes naturally.

Riley had a total of three assists and seven digs in the game against UMKC this Tuesday.

“I thought it was a good game, a lot of intensity.” Riley said, “We started a little slow — we always talk about setting the tone and how that is our job — but we came out in the second game with a lot more energy.”

Coach Bechard said Riley “is extremely competitive and focused. She passed well tonight. She didn’t have that many opportunities but she is leading the team in digs. She serves very well; we are very excited about a freshman coming in to help us like that.”

Riley is a diverse player — often laughing in between sets, but serious during play.

“I think she is a spark that if it is quiet on the court you can always hear her. It’s never dead. She never lets the energy sink low,” teammate Allison Mayfield said, “She’s always picking everybody up … both verbally, we can hear her on the court, and she is a great player in the back row”.

Riley is not limited to assistance during play, however. Her positive effect shows off the court. Whether it is approaching and apologizing to a fan who was hit with a shanked ball or picking up the extra balls after warm-ups, Riley is a very positive player. She is hoping to get involved in SAAC- Student Athlete Advisory Community.

“All the athletes come together and participate in more than sports,” she said. “It is about being more than an athlete and being active in the community.”

— Edited by Tim Dwyer