Sports

Morrison’s the maestro at the net

Coach Bob Bertucci called senior Jackie Morrison the volleyball team’s “quarterback.” She excels both on the court and in the classroom.

Coach Bob Bertucci called senior Jackie Morrison the volleyball team’s “quarterback.” She excels both on the court and in the classroom.

Back in 2006, setter Jackie Morrison was the lone freshman on a senior-laden squad.

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TTN File Photo Senior setter and team captain Jackie Morrison sets up junior outside hitter Yun Yi Zhang earlier this season.

Now, she leads the Owls toward one goal – an Atlantic Ten Championship.

The 6-foot-1-inch senior from Stony Brook, N.Y., is quite visible on the court with her bright red hair. But the two-year captain of the Owls said she wants her teammates to take note and approach her off the court for help as well.

“My role is important because I want the girls to know that I’m there for them on and off the court for anything they need,” Morrison said. “I make myself available for them because I want them to succeed in anything and everything.”

In seventh grade, Morrison left her soccer cleats behind and started playing volleyball. Three state championship appearances and two state titles show she made the right choice. Morrison led Ward Melville to the New York State Championship in 2003 and 2005 and to a silver medal at the 2005 NY State Empire Games. She still holds her high school’s record for blocks and assists in a single season.

The communication science major said she once found herself in a position similar to that of redshirt freshman middleback Jasmine Waters – a newer player to the game looking for help. Morrison turned to Temple alumna Maira Mogollon.

“I was extremely lucky to have Maira,” Morrison said. “She got me mentally tougher to be a setter. Setting is one of the hardest jobs on the team because you touch every second ball and basically control your offensive game. Watching her and backing her up had a huge influence on where I am today.”

“Jackie is so encouraging,” Waters added. “She’s always saying to me to get certain kills, and during the Rhode Island game, she was yelling at me to get the game-ending kill. She’s just a great, great teammate.”

And in addition to leading the Owls on the court with 1,147 assists last year, Morrison also starred in the classroom. The Philadelphia Inquirer named her to the Academic All-Area volleyball team.

Coach Bob Bertucci can’t seem to have a press conference without somehow mentioning her name.

“Bob stands behind me completely,” Morrison said. “I’ve always felt supported by him. Whenever I wasn’t playing well, he was the first one to tell me what to do and how to get there. He has never had a problem motivating people, and with me, that shows. He’s been a major key to my success at Temple.”

“She’s our quarterback,” Bertucci said. “But remember, the quarterback can’t do anything without receivers. Jackie’s always done a great job running this team. She knows it, and so do her teammates.”

One of those teammates is junior middleback Jessica Antosz.

“Jackie is a great setter,” Antosz said. “I came in the spring, and she helped me adjust to the Temple style. We worked together a lot on setting to hitting, and she’s real easy to click with.”

After she graduates in May, Morrison plans to attend graduate school, and though she remains undecided where that will be, volleyball will still play a part in her future.

“I don’t think I want to play pro or overseas but maybe a club team or something,” she said. “I have to go to grad school and finish out, but I’ll always play the game. It’s just a part of me.”

When Morrison leaves Temple’s program next year, someone will have to fill her shoes. She already has a firm idea who that will be.

“[Sophomore outside hitter] Elizabeth Prang has the qualities to be a future captain,” Morrison said. “[Junior] Ariel Pierre and Antosz will definitely help the future of Temple volleyball as well.”

Christian Audesirk can be reached at christian.audesirk@temple.edu.

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