Rarely does a freshman make an immediate impact on a playoff-caliber team.
Freshman setter Jenny Woolway is an exception in this case.
The San Diego native filled the shoes for four-year starter Carson Lowden and started every set of every match this season.
Woolway’s presence has been felt as she leads the Big West Conference in total assists and is second in assists per game.
When discussing the starting setter, coach Jamie Holmes has nothing but postive sentiments about the freshman.
Woolway took a break from preparing for UC Davis’ final three games of the season to sit down with Aggie Sports Editor Jason Alpert and discuss her experience as an impact player for the Aggies.
How has the team been doing so far this season?
I think we’ve been doing a really great job. Last year’s team had some good success and at the beginning of the year the coaches and players wanted to make sure we came back strong this year and build off last year’s successes. I think we’re doing a good job in continuing the winning tradition.
What do you think has been the key to continuing these successes?
Our team chemistry helps a lot and it’s apparent on the court. I know all of us are having a great time together whether at practice or during the games. We just enjoy being with each other and that energy builds and it really drives us to do better. We’re all really competitive too and that drives us to win.
How did you fit in to the team chemistry coming in as a freshman?
At first, it was a little intimidating. All these girls had been through this before starting with double days and it was a little overwhelming. The girls were so welcoming. They didn’t make it too difficult to fit in. At first it was a jump to step up to college ball, but now it’s fine. We’re all fighting toward the same goal.
In your first season, you jumped right in there as the setter, the quarterback of the offense. How did you settle in at the position and learn the offense Holmes runs at UC Davis?
Luckily, my club team ran a similar offense. A lot of practice and gym time has helped the most. It’s still not all there yet as I’m still learning some plays. It helps because I have five other girls out there that know how every play should be. I’m surrounded by a lot of talented players and that really helps.
Holmes calls fighting toward the same goal as “out-teaming the opponent.” What does this mean to you and how has it helped your team during the season?
The first thing that comes to mind is the UC Santa Barbara game [at the Pavilion] a couple weeks ago. We were down two sets and six points in the third set and Jamie called a timeout and something just switched in our brains. We weren’t six individuals out there, we were one team.
Your first game starting was on the road against Utah. Were you nervous before the game?
[Laughs] Yeah I was. I don’t think I told anybody. The practice before the match [Holmes] pulled me aside and asked me how I was doing. In the locker room before the game, I went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror and told myself I could do it. It was a fun environment to play in for my first match.
How has Holmes helped you transition to college play?
She has helped a lot in that she sets the bar very high for all us. This pushes us to be the very best we can be. She doesn’t accept anything but our best effort and she’s very good at telling if we’re not. She’s made the transition a lot easier because she holds the same standard for everybody so she doesn’t baby the freshmen at all.
Obviously there’s life outside of volleyball. How have you liked Davis so far?
I absolutely love it. I still haven’t found one thing to dislike about this school. I was up here over summer and I got to go around campus and the town and I fell in love with it. Once school started, I’ve been able to meet a lot of non-athletes and they’ve all been so nice. It’s a nice community.
You’re just a couple months into your college career, but do you have an idea of what you’d like to do after you graduate?
Honestly, I don’t really know yet. Everything about the human body and sports and movement has fascinated me from a young age. I’d like to learn a little more about how our bodies work and why it does what it does. I’ve thought about teaching, but it’s really too soon to tell for me to decide.
JASON ALPERT can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.