While junior Alison Runk balances athletics and her academics, she’s looking forward to the internship that will get her foot in the door as an accountant.
“It is difficult to balance volleyball and study,” Runk said. “But I try to work hard in studying and volleyball. For the future, though it’s very competitive, I hope I can do the spring internship in my senior year.”
But when she’s not in the books, she’s on the court – as a standout on Temple’s volleyball team. Whether it’s setting to attackers on offense or blocking shots on defense, Runk leads the team and controls the game.
“A lot of information is coming at you during a game,” Runk said. “You have to worry about your team, about the strengths and weaknesses of the other team, and about how to take advantage of those weaknesses.”
Although the Owls lost five matches in a row to begin their 2003 campaign, the defending Atlantic Ten Conference champs are back on track having won seven of their last eight.
Even if the team is struggling, Runk maintains her resolve.
“I cannot lose my concentration because I am touching the ball in each play,” she said. “I am thinking about passes, having to work behind the ball and setting the best ball to hitters.”
Runk plays an important role for the Owls as a setter and leads the A-10 in sets with 13.6 per game.
Runk’s coaches admit she is a big influence on her teammates.
“Alison has good character for a setter,” assistant coach Yi Quin Weng said. “She can always keep very calm during the game and communicate well with her teammates.”
Runk’s outstanding play has led to many awards since she started playing volleyball at age 11. She was named to the first team all-state and all-district first team in 1999 at Warwick High School in Litiz, Pa. She was also awarded MVP of the Lancaster-Lebanon League and 2000 Keystone Games.
Even though Runk was already a versatile athlete as a freshman, she has improved technically and mentally through coaches’ instructions, practices and games.
“She can learn multiple offenses, and she understands a lot more about the game right now,” coach Bob Bertucci said. “Now, even though she is improving athletically, I think she is improving tremendously as a volleyball player.”
As she has become a more reliable and skillful setter, the team has continued to soar higher. Runk played 124 games, marked 1,505 assists and earned the honor of A-10 Setter of the Year last season, when the Owls were A-10 champs and finished with a mark of 29-7.
Her teammates know they have one of, if not the best, setter in the conference.
“She practices really hard,” teammate Laura Leis said. “She is never getting a break like anybody else. [She is] always setting and touching the ball during the break.”
Off the court, Runk is a reserved, hard-working Accounting major. Her teammates are enamored with her and smile and laugh when they talk about their “quarterback.”
“Alison is really positive, easy-going and fun to be with,” teammate Yamit Haba said. “She never annoys anybody. She also works really hard.”
Toshi Horiuchi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.