Lofty thoughts are at the forefront of Sarah Pruden’s mind when she thinks of the 2013 Manchester University volleyball season and beyond.
After the numbers she produced as a freshman, one couldn’t blame her.
The Noblesville, Ind., native hammered 382 kills, 3.67 per game, which was the most for a Spartans’ player since 2007. Due to that, the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference coaches tabbed her Freshman of the Year and first team all-conference.
“I had a lot of chances, because I was getting set a lot on the outside,” she said. “I couldn’t have done any of that without my teammates working with me.
“I like to mix it up (where the ball goes on my attack attempts),” she added. “(Head) Coach (Kendra) Marlowe talks to the offense about this during practices and in match time outs. If I see a weak spot in the other team’s defense, I will keep hitting at that spot until they adapt, or I find another opportunity elsewhere.”
While Pruden was proud of her freshman year honors, she and her teammates, especially the Black and Gold’s sophomore class, are thinking bigger picture.
“The individual attention is nice, but I want to see the program getting more wins,” she added. “We have a definite goal of improving on last year’s record for this fall and hopefully going farther and farther all the way through our senior seasons.
“I guess, if I think about individual progress, I’d like to be an All-American at some point,” she added. “That, and getting more wins for our team, will take all of us working together towards our goals.”
Marlowe has been pleased with not only her kill numbers, but also her leadership abilities.
“The biggest key towards Sarah’s success is that she’s a really good teammate,” the Spartans’ head coach said. “It helps her game and makes the others around her better.”
“It’s worked out for her being part of a very talented class,” she added. “It’s probably one of the best we’ve had (since I’ve been here). We do have some players coming in that will fit in well (around that class) and hopefully continue our progression.”
Some of her teammate attributes have come because Pruden has been around volleyball for a good share of her life.
“I played soccer like a lot of kids my age when I was young, but I really liked volleyball when I first had the chance to play it (in middle school),” she added. “I just kind of stuck with me.”
It continued to “stick” all the way through high school. She was a three-time all-Hoosier Crossroads Conference selection and was her team’s Most Valuable Player in each of the four years for the Millers. Her play also caught the eye of the high school coaches association, as she was named to the North-South all-star match after her senior year.
Marlowe sees more and more potential ahead for Pruden’s collegiate career, too.
“She has a big heart on and off the court and is willing to put in the effort to make the team better,” she said. “(Sarah is) a great all-around player. Her defense helped her become that way, as she had the second-most digs and was third in blocks last year.”