Morgan Looking to Build on Strong Freshman Season
This is the second of a six-part series of feature stories on the 2016 Kentucky Volleyball team.
Early in her first season as a member of the Kentucky volleyball team, Brooke Morgan wasn’t sure what her role on the team would be. But as the 2015 campaign developed, Morgan became an integral part of the Wildcats’ success.
Morgan finished her freshman season with 195 kills and 69 total blocks, statistics that earned her a spot on the SEC All-Freshman Team. And that achievement has also set the stage for what Kentucky head coach Craig Skinner hopes is a big second season from Morgan.
“She’s gotten stronger,” Skinner said of his 6-5 sophomore from Dike, Iowa. “Physically, she’s able to do things more efficiently.”
And that includes the three-time SEC Freshman of the Week working on some new skills.
“I wanted to work on hitting off of two feet,” Morgan said of her work this offseason. “I worked so much on that this spring. “
Skinner hopes adding that particular skill will make Morgan even better offensively.
“She’s always been an effective attacker off of one foot, hitting the slide,” Skinner said. “We didn’t allow her to do that all spring long because we knew we wanted to develop her as an attacker off of two feet. Overall versatility and strength is something she’s taken to another level.”
Morgan’s height gives her an immediate advantage over many opponents, something her teammates appreciate.
“She’s so big and physical, which, a big part of our game is blocking and hitting,” senior Anni Thomasson said of Morgan. “She brings a lot of intimidation, being 6-5.”
But being so tall is not without its challenges, as Skinner is quick to acknowledge.
“Being 6-5 with the frame that she has, she needs to be able to control what she does as she moves and when she’s jumping in the air,” Skinner said. “Those are things she has improved on, she’s much more in control when she goes in the air.”
Junior Kaz Brown believes Morgan’s first year at Kentucky was a success.
“Coming here and playing a different position, I think she’s transitioned into that role really well,” Brown said. “She came here last year not knowing what she was going to do for us and she ended up being a key contributor, so I’m excited to see how she improves this year.”
And Brown should know. She and Morgan both hail from Iowa, where they played club volleyball together before reuniting as teammates at Kentucky.
“We have good chemistry on and off the court because we’ve known each other for so long, so it’s really cool to play with someone you’ve known for that long,” Brown said of Morgan. “She loves to win and she comes from a high school program where all they know is winning, so it’s ingrained in her, and that’s really cool for us to have someone who wants to win so badly.”
As fall practice ramps up, Morgan knows that she, and the team, still have some work to do.
“Like every team right now, we have room for improvement,” Morgan said. “Every day, we’re working on something new and trying to tweak the little things that will help us throughout the season.”
And as Morgan continues to improve on those little things, she will become even more valuable for the Wildcats in 2016.