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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Transfer improving her game

When Cursty Jackson — a Los Angeles native — came to Arizona this summer after transferring from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, she had never been asked to be a defensive player.

That’s changed. She’s in her first season at the middle blocker position, but it didn’t happened overnight.

“”Back at UNLV, I was always known as a hitter … here I have to take on the role of being a hitter and a blocker,”” said Jackson, who was named to the all-conference team in last weekend’s Arizona Invitational. “”It has been tough, but I just kind of adjusted to it and try to get better at it every day. I really have to concentrate on it.””

The importance of working on blocking constantly is something that Courtney Karst, a junior middle blocker from Centennial, Colo., also stressed.

“”We work on blocking every single day,”” said Karst. “”It’s a big part of what we need to improve on to be successful.””

Dedication to defense requires a different mindset than Jackson was accustomed to, but she’s taken it in stride.

“”Blocking is such a mental game,”” Jackson continued. “”Hitting just always came naturally, but (for) blocking, you have to know where your arms are, and look at the setter and be aware of everything happening on the court.””

Dave Rubio, in his 19th year as Arizona’s head volleyball coach, knows the importance of blocking and how difficult of a transition it can be for an offensive player.

“”Cursty has certainly made some nice strides over the last couple weeks,”” said Rubio. “”She’s getting fundamentally better in terms of what (the coaching staff) is looking for; she’s been more conscientious about it and more coachable, so I’m pleased where she’s at in her development.””

Rubio also went on to elaborate on the impact blocking can have on a game and how it’s something that Arizona will need to excel at if it hopes to contend for a conference championship.

“”It takes a lot of pressure off of your defense behind the block,”” Rubio continued. “”If you do a good job there, then it’s going to make it a lot easier to get some transition points.””

The good news for Jackson is that she’s been working so hard at blocking in practice that it’s almost second nature during games.

“”If I do it in practice, I don’t even have to think about it during the game,”” she said. “”It just kind of, you know, comes naturally for me. But when I don’t think about it in practice, that’s when I struggle in games.””

It might not seem like this would be the case, but blocking is very dependent on attention to detail and that’s something that Jackson knows she can’t forget.

“”I really need to focus on smaller things like closing the block, calling who my hitters are, so that’s something I definitely still need to work on,”” she elaborated. “”It’s a day-to-day thing, I just need to concentrate.””

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