Role, not height, determines libero’s importance

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Junior Libero Jenna Krafka (18) serves during UD’s game against Davidson College on Friday, Oct 3, 2014 at Frericks Center. UD won 3-0. (Photo By/ San Kumar/ Staff Photographer)


By: Emily haynes – Staff Writer

University of Dayton volleyball player, junior libero Janna Krafka almost signed on as a Xavier Musketeer, but she prefers to keep that on the down low.

“I actually committed to Xavier first,” Krafka said. “After about a week, I changed my mind and came to Dayton instead.”

Despite her original commitment, she has been satisfied with her decision to attend UD.

“I didn’t really want to go to Dayton at first, but I came to pre-season camp and loved all the players, coaches, and just everything here,” Krafka said.

“Since I live nearby [Centerville, Ohio], I never thought of coming here because it was too close. Being on campus, I don’t feel too close to home, which is nice. I definitely think Dayton was the right choice.”

Head coach Tim Horsmon said that Krafka might be one of the best defensive players he has ever coached, and he has only been coaching her since January, after returning to UD after a stint with the University of Maryland.

Horsmon coached UD before his time at Maryland from 2003-2007, compiling a 128-43 record. In his first season back with the program, UD holds a record of 16-5 overall and 5-1 Atlantic 10 record.

He said Krafka has already made an impression as a leader and motivator.

“She shows me every day that she wants to be great at what she’s doing,” Horsmon said. “She has been one of our most consistent players who comes to work everyday and has a great attitude. She leads by example and brings it everyday—you never have to motivate her.”

Krafka has been starting on varsity since her freshman year.

The libero position requires her to strictly play defense and to call the shots on the court for defensive plays.

Redshirt junior middle blocker Angel Agu said Krafka and her leadership are vital to the success of the team.

“Being an attacker, it’s important that we put all of our trust and faith in Krafka. She has the best view of both sides of the court,” Agu says. “She is our defensive coordinator; therefore, she takes initiative when our blockers and back row players aren’t doing their job accordingly.”

As one of two team captains, it’s important for Krafka to adapt to any situation, whether off or on the court.

Every year that Krafka has played at UD, there has been a new head coach in place. This unique situation has shown her resiliency.

“Things will change and you have to be able to adapt,” Krafka said. “You can’t get worked up over [the coaching changes]. Things go on. If you mess up on one play, that can’t affect everything else. You just have to keep going.”

This attitude applies not only to her athletic career, but also to her academic one, Krafka said.

Collegiate sports are very time-consuming, and Krafka admits that it gets difficult to manage her time throughout the season. She thinks one of the most important lessons she and her teammates have learned is not to procrastinate—even though she laughs that they all still do anyways.

Whether on the court or in the classroom, Krafka remains motivated to excel.

She must work extremely hard to prove herself as an asset because she is so small in stature compared to the average player. Instead of playing within her height of 5 feet 5 inches, she enjoys her ability to surprise opponents during a game.

Her impact is much larger than her height would predict, especially in volleyball.

“I think I use [my size] as more of a motivation because I am the smallest person, so, a lot of the time, people see that a disadvantage,” Krafka says. “But that just makes me want to be that much better. Once you dig them, it’s such a good feeling.”

On Monday, the A-10 awarded Krafka with Atlantic 10 Co-Defensive Player of the Week after a weekend leading the Flyers with 4.75 digs per set. In a five-set loss to George Washington University, she recorded as season-high 30 digs.

Flyer volleyball fans can catch Krafka and the team against Fordham University at Dayton’s Frericks Center. the Flyers seek to run their conference record to 6-1 at 7 p.m.