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Sekerak successful in freshman season

Four years ago, Paige Sekerak’s volleyball career was changed forever when her high school head coach made her switch positions, from setter to libero.

As a freshman, Sekerak is the starting libero for Towson’s volleyball team and said she is happy for the position change.

“When I first switched, during the first few years of high school, I felt like I kind of missed setting. But now I would not be a setter, no way,” she said.

One of the main adjustments Sekerak said she’s had to make since coming to Towson is how much faster each match is compared to her high school experience.

“It’s a higher level, so it’s automatically going to be that much faster, that much more difficult to keep up,” she said.

Head Coach Bruce Atkinson said he feels that Sekerak adds a lot to the team. He listed her height and strong ability to control the ball as some of her best abilities.

“She can take those high balls where sometimes lower defenders struggle, including [alumna libero] Lauren Tonokawa last year,” Atkinson said. “That was one of the main reasons we liked Paige when we watched her throughout her high school play, and we felt she could definitely be the libero of the future for us.”

With the regular season officially at an end, Sekerak has far surpassed the stats Tonokawa had as a senior.

Last season, Tonokawa finished with 20 service aces, 356 digs and averaged 3.71 digs per set. In her first collegiate season, Sekerak has finished with 33 service aces, 477 digs and averaged 4.42 digs per set.

Atkinson said that Sekerak still has to work on her consistency, but that her overall defensive play is farther along than Tonokawa’s at this point.

“We required her [Tonokawa] to take a lot of balls out of serve-receive that we don’t require Paige to at this time,” Atkinson said. “We think she will be able to in the near future, so I would say Lauren’s serve-receive is probably a bit more consistent than Paige. But Paige’s defense is rapidly becoming better as a freshman than Lauren’s as a senior.”

Sekerak said she attributes all of her success this season to the help her team has given her. At such an early point in her college career, she says that her teammates are helping her grow.

“I think it’s really easy when I have my teammates and my coaching staff,” she said of making more adjustments throughout the season. “They’re all so helpful, so I think that every day at practice I learn something new. I get a little bit better at one different detail, so that always helps. Hopefully I can make that number a little more regular. It should be a really great season.”

Sekerak has already set her goals high. On Oct. 22, in Towson’s match against Georgia State, she set a career-high in digs, recording 28 on the night.

“The overall goal is to keep improving, to keep getting better, but more specifically, I want to have a high number of digs, like 20 or more,” she said. “I really want to have that many for every match and be that consistent, but I don’t know if that’s going to happen.”

Going into the CAA tournament, Atkinson said he doesn’t think that he’ll have to worry about Sekerak freezing up under the pressure. She’s already passed what Atkinson said is the hardest part of the season: adjusting to college-level play. He said that there’s only room for her to improve.

“I think it’s just we’re asking her to pass a little bit differently than she has and defend a little bit differently, and I think that’s been more of the learning curve than the freshman jitters,” Atkinson said.

Over the course of her rookie season, Sekerak has received many honors. She’s been named the CAA Defensive Player of the Week twice and was CAA Rookie of the Week for her play the first week of the season.

In addition to her CAA mentions, Sekerak has always ranked among other players in the conference.

She’s ranked seventh in service aces with her 33 on the season, averaging 0.31 per set. In digs, she’s ranked third with 477, averaging 4.42 per set.

Sekerak said these awards and standings are nice, but she wants to continue to improve and do better as her career continues.

“I don’t want to stop here. I want to keep getting better,” she said. “I want to become a really good player, and I think it can happen as long as I keep working hard.”

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