Trojans reunited as KSU?teammates

The senior/freshman cousin combination that led Hillsboro High School to girls? basketball and track Class 3A state championships and finished as a runner up in the state volleyball tournament in 2006-07, has been reunited as Kansas State University volleyball teammates.

Durham senior JuliAnne Chisholm and Lehigh freshman Dakota Kaufman may be at different points in their college sports careers, but this fall they share a common goal?to help the Wildcats win matches.

One of two seniors and a captain on a young K-State squad, Chisholm will take on more of a leadership role in 2010, even though her coach says she has always led by example on and off the court.

?(Chisholm) has one of the strongest characters and value systems and work ethic of any player I?ve ever coached,? said eighth-year Wildcat coach Suzie Fritz. ?She?s very self-motivated. She has very high standards for not only how she plays volleyball, but how she lives her life.?

Opting to pursue volleyball instead of basketball after high school, Chisholm admitted she had a lot of work to do in order to be successful as a Division I volleyball player.

?When I came in, I was really unskilled,? she said. ?I had a lot to learn. They turned me into a volleyball player. I really wasn?t a volleyball player when I came in.?

Said Fritz, ?From just a volleyball perspective, she didn?t have a lot of experience when she came in. The position she plays as a left-side hitter requires a high amount of skill. Early on, I think she had her struggles, like most young players do, in adapting to the demands of her position.?

One of the major adjustments for Chisholm in moving from Class 3A Hillsboro to the Big 12 was the level of competition she faced.

?The game was so fast,? Chisholm said. ?High school was sky balls and no block and you just dominate. You?re like a big fish in a baby pond. But when you get to college, it?s just so fast and so many things to think about.?

Chisolm improved with hard work and experience and will need to shoulder a lot of responsibility in her senior season.

?Over the past three years I?ve kind of evolved from a role player to a vocal leader,? Chisholm said. ?Now, as a captain I?m a vocal leader and I lead by example by my play and if I don?t play well, it?s a big deal.?

Fritz said, ?We?re asking her to do a lot now as a senior. She?s a six-rotation player, hits front row and back row, has passing responsibilities and defensive responsibilities, thus we?re asking her to do everything.?

In her junior season, in which she was selected all-academic Big 12, Chisholm stepped up and was a key contributor in several wins, one of which stood out for her.

In a match at home against Texas A&M, Chisholm overcame fatigue to slam home the game-deciding kill to end the five-set marathon. She finished the match with 20 kills.

With the improvement to her game and the experience, Chisholm will be asked to mentor her younger teammates, including her freshman cousin, Kaufman.

Roommates through the summer, Kaufman said Chisholm played a role in helping her get to Manhattan.

?I?ve always wanted to come here, it?s been one of my biggest dreams? Kaufman said. ?She was a pretty big factor because she could talk to me when the coaches couldn?t talk to me. She helped me become more of the player I am now because she could tell me some of the information she new they would tell me.?

Chisholm said she also dropped hints about Kaufman to the K-State staff and helped her through the recruiting process.

?Our recruiting coordinater and I were really good friends so I would be like, ?Hey, I got my cousin here. You should see her tapes,?? Chisholm said. ?I helped Dakota choose her films to send in and delivered it.?

Through the first week of practice and the Purple and White scrimmage on Thursday night at Ahearn Fieldhouse, Chisolm thought Kaufman performed well but was adamant about correcting the young player?s mistakes.

?I try to talk to her during the play and when things happen,? Chisholm said. ?When we?re in position groups, I remind her to keep her elbow high or make sure she doesn?t get too deep?stuff I heard all the time when I was a freshman from my outside-hitter coach.?

For Kaufman, the major adjustment has been the physical demands of the first week of practice coupled with a deluge of new information.

?It?s been really hard,? she said. ?As you can tell, it?s 150 degrees in here (Ahearn Fieldhouse).

?The first day of practice went really well,? she added. ?Our bodies were not beat up or anything. Now, since it?s the fourth day, our bodies are getting fatigued and you?ve just got to fight through everything, try and do your best and learn everything. Sometimes it?s information overload.?

K-State begins its season Aug. 27 against UCLA?at the Hawaii Chevron Classic in Honolulu.

At the conclusion of the 2010 season, Chisholm will end her collegiate volleyball career but will stay at K-State to finish her pre-med degree and play basketball for two seasons.

With Chisholm around for another year, Kaufman, who is majoring in education, will have someone to continue to assist with her development.

?I?ve loved having her up here,? Kaufman said. ?It?s been huge for me.?

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