Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

October 24, 2013

Morrow minds the net for Rams

By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD, Va. — Jasmine Morrow isn’t close to being the biggest player on the floor for the Bluefield College volleyball team.

She just plays like it.

“As an outside hitter, I just love getting kills,” said Morrow, a 5-foot-8 sophomore leaper from Woodbridge, Va. “That is what I do and I just love it.

“I love the rush of putting the ball away every chance I get.”

No one enjoys seeing Morrow display her leaping and striking ability at the net more than first year volleyball coach Jim Butski, who left Florida Christian College to replace Brian Votaw at Bluefield in March.

He inherited a young squad, which included Morrow, and is glad for it.

“As an athlete, she has got a good motor. She wants to just go, go, go, she is very competitive.” Butski said. “I think that is a big part of it, having that ability to recognize competitive situations. Having great teams on the other side usually helps you raise your level for some players and she always raises her level against top competition.”

She has done it well. Even though Bluefield is just 5-18 on the season, including 0-13 in the Mid-South Conference, it isn’t anything Morrow is doing wrong.

“She has tremendous leaping ability, great athleticism,” said Butski, who will focus his recruiting efforts on finding more hitters like Morrow. “That is what you want from one of your top hitters for sure....

“We need to have competitive balance as far as with athletes go, bringing in some athletes on the same level as the Mid-South competitors... Big, strong, fast and talented and smart obviously and we are looking for players that are a good fit for Bluefield as well obviously.”

Morrow fits just fine, currently leading the Mid-South in kills and kills per set, and is 10th among NAIA schools in America with 4.100 kills per game. She is also 50th in the country with 324 total kills.

“I think she has one of the highest scoring games in the NAIA nationally of anybody in the country this year,” Butski said. “She had a 30-kill performance against Tennessee Temple and I think the highest this year is 31 so it was pretty tremendous.”

That performance, which came in a five-set win, earned Morrow the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) Player of the Week honors.

“I just know that past week we had a weekend tournament in Tennessee and I know I had a lot of kills that weekend,” Morrow said. “I think that was the main factor for that award. It was really exciting, the whole game was just back and forth and back and forth so 30 kills was a big accomplishment.”

While Morrow played soccer and was a cheerleader while in middle school, it was a local scribe who encouraged her focus on volleyball.

“There is a news reporter back home, he talked my parents into signing me into club ball and ever since then it has just been all about volleyball,” said Morrow, who played on the Evangel Christian — located 30 minutes from Washington, D.C. — varsity squad since seventh grade.

Morrow had numerous options for a college home, but decided against all suitors from large schools and chose to stay small.

“I came from a very small Christian school, my graduating class had 16 kids in it so I didn’t want to go to a huge D-I university and just get overwhelmed by the people,” Morrow said. “I really liked Bluefield College and the small size and at that time Coach Votaw was here and I really liked him, nothing against Coach Butski, but you know what I mean.  

“The team, the volleyball coach, and just the overall campus, I really like Bluefield...When I came to visit here everybody was just so friendly and I really liked that. You can go around campus and said ‘hi’ to everybody and it is great, I like it.”

Morrow, who had a stellar freshman campaign last season with 444 (3.8) kills per game, was admittedly intimidated early on when faced with much bigger players lurking on the other side of the net.

“At first it was,” she said. “My first couple of games last year I was like ‘I don’t know how this is going to go’, but I am getting used to it now...

“I know from high school and club my biggest challenge is facing much bigger girls and getting around that big block. I like it though because it is making me become a smarter player and seeing that block and going around it.”

Bluefield isn’t exactly an entertainment mecca, but Morrow has learned to adjust to a small town with the help of her teammates, including roommate Steffi Dutton.

“It is easy to get bored here so you just find crazy stuff to do,” Morrow said. “We go to the mall a lot and just walk around. We will go bowling and we just discovered there is a skating rink not too far from here so I think we are going to start going out to that.

“Me and my roommate, we have lots of movie nights. We just sit in our room and watch movies over and over and over again. I can’t tell you how many times we have watched ‘Pitch Perfect’, that is like our movie.”

There is also academics, with Morrow working toward a degree in business administration.

“My first semester was a little rough, my grades weren’t what they should have been, but the second semester was much better,” she said, with a smile. “I have got it together fast.”

Those relaxing nights are helpful to Morrow, who punishes her body, not only leaping at the net, but diving to the floor to keep balls alive, leading the Rams with 3.4 (270) digs per game.

“I get bruises, but what volleyball player doesn’t get bruises,” said Morrow,  who currently has a fracture in her left foot that won’t keep her from the floor.

Of course, Morrow would rather continue to play, but the Rams won’t quality for the MSC tournament despite having nine games left to play. She is, however, confident the Rams will be more competitive in the future.

“Definitely, this year we are lacking on hitters a little bit so next year that is all Coach Butski is bringing in is hitters so we will have a young team,” Morrow said. “I am really excited to see where we go over the next couple of years.”

Morrow won’t, however, complain much when this particular season does come to an end.

“Yes,” she said, with a smile. “From jumping about a thousand times a game, I have very bad shin splints so I am excited to get a break.”

—Contact Brian Woodsonat bwoodson@bdtonline.com