Jennifer Hart says she just tries to focus on doing her job for the Hough volleyball team.For the last two seasons, her main role has been to help direct the Huskies offense as the team’s setter.“My job isn’t to look to get the point, but to get the ball to my teammates in the best position they can be in to score the points,” Hart said. “I’ve been lucky to play for such a great team with so many good players. I really don’t know where I’m going to go with ball until around the time it hits my hands. I have so many good options on this team.”Hart, 17, began her high school volleyball career at North Mecklenburg, where she started as the Vikings’ libero (defensive specialist) as a freshman before becoming an all-I-Meck 4A conference setter for the team her sophomore year. Ironically, her head coach at Hough, Sandi Skidmore, first watched her play at North Meck, but then left the Vikings’ program to move to the new Hough High before Hart started playing for Hough.“I remember being impressed with Jennifer at North and then I left,” Skidmore said. “Then, I was coaching against her. So, when she came to Hough, I was excited.”Hart had big shoes to fill when she came to Hough, as she took over for former Huskies setter Nikki Hero, but she fit right in.“The (Hough) girls were great to me, and I had played with several of them in club volleyball,” said Hart, who still plays for the Lake Norman volleyball club team with teammates Julia Brown, Dakoda Hawkins, Haley Kain and Jazmine Lindor. “After the first few practices, we really started getting into a rhythm together.”Hart and the Huskies had their best season in the young history of the program last year, going 35-3 and advancing all the way to the 4A state semifinals before falling to eventual state champion Ardrey Kell.Hart had a lot to with that success, recording 425 assists, 109 aces, 141 digs and 97 kills. She had a lot of help with a core group in I-Meck 4A player of the year Brown (an N.C. State commit), Morgan Fisher, Kain, Lindor and Maddie Lippy.That same group and others are now trying to get back to the same level of play this season, and are off to a strong start at 10-1 – Hough’s only loss came to Rock Hill High – including 5-0 in MECKA 4A conference play.Skidmore says Hart has been even better this year, after working all summer to improve her game.Hart not only went to team camp at the University of Florida with Hough, but attended a two-week camp, held by Sports Performance in Chicago, solely dedicated to setting.“I’ve never been to anything like that camp before,” Hart said. “For 13 straight days, I worked on nothing but setting. I thought I was good before I went there, but now I know there is a reason behind every set I make. The whole experience definitely made me a better player overall.”Hart’s summer of work has paid big dividends as she has averaged nearly 20 assists per game this season, while also playing great defense, serving well and scoring with the occasional “dump,” when a setter quickly hits the ball back across the net for a point, instead of setting it.“My job is also to help my team win and do whatever it takes to get that done,” Hart said. “I like to win and hate to lose. My competitive attitude really comes out on the court.”Skidmore says while Hart is “a very intense player, to say the least,” she is working with her to become more vocal with her teammates, as the Hough senior setter tends to be quieter and more of a leader by example.Hart says she hopes that her play on the court this season will help will help her earn a college scholarship as well, with schools like Washington & Lee – which she has visited – Charleston Southern, Emory & Henry College and Georgia College on her radar as well as several bigger, Division I schools where she might be able be a walk-on. Hart is also a strong student, holding a 4.3 grade-point average.While Hart will be busy looking at schools this fall, she hopes to lead her Hough team to the top in her final high school season.“Getting to the state championship is something we all want,” Hart said. “We know what it feels like to get close and not win it. This year we hope to finish on top (state title).” Jay Edwards is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Jay? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Sunday, Sep. 22, 2013
Hart sets Huskies up for success
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email email@example.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less