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Robertson grows into volleyball success

By Adam Troxtell
On October 6, 2010

Tall people are often thought of as having a natural ability for sports, specifically basketball. This is especially true for women like 6' 1" A&M-Commerce sophomore volleyball player Rachel Robertson.

"I grew eight inches between eighth grade and ninth grade, so I had a huge growth spurt," Robertson said. "My parents are both pretty tall."

Robertson's height made her stick out during her time at Princeton High School, where she was best known for playing three sports. She set a regional record in the high jump event in track and field, and also played soccer as a goalkeeper.

"We didn't really have a strong track program," she said. "I had a choice not to do high jump. My parents said, ‘Well, you would not want to regret not doing it.' So, I went out my senior year and jumped the best I ever had. It's kind of fun. I miss it sometimes, but I'd rather be playing volleyball than outside in the heat jumping around."

Robertson said she did spend time playing basketball, but the sport she is best known for now became more of an obvious choice as high school began.

"I did play basketball before I played volleyball in junior high," she said. "I thought I was going to play basketball in college. Looking at the possibilities of playing basketball, most girls in my position had 30 or 40 pounds of muscle on me. It kind of upset my parents, because they really like basketball. But, now they both like volleyball and have accepted the fact I'm not going to play. I didn't play in high school and just stuck with volleyball."

William and Karen Robertson can usually be found at most A&M-Commerce volleyball games, according to their daughter.

"My parents are at every home game, and my dad actually surprised me in Amarillo when he came out there," Robertson said. "They're really supportive, and they were at all my games in high school. My dad's the first person I hug after every game."

Robertson came to A&M-Commerce when Mark Pryor was head volleyball coach, and had a productive first year. She led the team in hitting percentage with .264, and was second on the team with 281 kills. With 2.20 kills per set, she was second among freshmen in the entire Lone Star Conference.

After that season, Pryor left and Craig Case took the reins. Robertson said it was not difficult adjusting to a new style of coaching, but it was unsettling to see Pryor leave.

"Coach Case is a little more passive, and he's more into the details and explaining everything," she said. "Personally, I feel I've learned more this year based on his coaching style than I felt like I learned last year. At the college level, I was surprised I was recruited by Mark [Pryor], he told me he would be here, and then he just up and left. It was more of a harder time, not so much the volleyball part, but outside of it. Someone new is coming in and what if they don't like me or the way I play. But, it's all volleyball, so as long as you do your job, you should be in good shape."

Case said he liked what he saw from Robertson even before he settled in as head coach. After Pryor left, Case said Robertson contacted teammates to encourage them to stay on board with the program.

"She's got natural leadership abilities, and it was important for me to hear her taking that chance on me," he said. "She had faith things could work out and this was going to be a good place for everybody to be. She put herself out there, and I really did appreciate that."

Case also said he likes Robertson for her ability to take what he says and apply it at the right times.

"She's a fun player to coach," he said. "She'll experiment and try new things when she has the opportunity to, and then when it's time to play and not think she just goes out and plays. As a coach, I'm never worried about telling her too much."

Robertson has already begun copying her efforts from last year, leading the team with 2.68 kills per set and 45 total blocks. She said having a good first year gave her more confidence to perform well in the second.

"It wasn't so much added pressure, but it was an expectation I set for my self," she said. "If I could do this good my first year out of high school, then having another year under my belt, I should be able to do a lot better. It's easier to be more focused for games. I already know what's coming and the style is a lot faster than high school."

Despite a 7-9 record overall, the Lions are currently 0-5 in LSC play. Robertson said the team has the ability, but needs to get the right things going for them in order to turn their fortunes around.

"We have everything we need, it just hasn't come together yet," she said. "We have the physical ability, we have the talent, we have the volleyball IQ you need. It's just a matter of everything meshing together and falling into place. All those pieces are starting to fall into place, because we just won our last three games. That's definitely going to give us momentum when we start back up in conference."

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