Rice Volleyball had playmakers from top to bottom of their roster, making incredible Nicole Lennon’s 2019 season that much more impressive.
There have been few seasons in Rice volleyball history as dominant as Nicole Lennon’s 2019 campaign. The Preseason C-USA Player of the Year, Lennon took home seven of 12 C-USA Offensive Player of the Week Honors. She was a first-team All C-USA selection, a finalist for Houston Sports Collegiate Player of the Year and the team MVP.
Lennon tallied her 1,000th career dig this season and led C-USA in total kills (505). She had a season-high 32-kills against Stephen F Austin and 23 in the Owls’ upset over No. 3 Texas. She always delivered in the biggest moments.
— Rice Volleyball (@RiceVolleyball) November 10, 2019
The list of accomplishments is mounting. She already belongs on the shortlist of best Rice athletes of the decade. But the best could still be yet to come. At least, that’s what coach Genny Volpe sees when she watches how Lennon works and prepares off the court.
“Her volleyball IQ keeps getting higher and higher,” Volpe said. “Every year she continues to make gains in efficiency.”
The numbers bear out Volpe’s observation. Since her freshman season in 2017, Lennon has improved her hitting percentage by 129 percentage points (.159 to .288). Her kill count has risen from by 80 (425 to 505) and her points are up 75.5 (476.5 to 552).
Lennon’s sophomore stats were better than her freshman stats. She made another jump from sophomore year to junior year. If she maintains that trajectory, we might get to witness an even better version of Lennon in 2020. That’s an incredible notion to behold.
Lennon boasts the rare combination of elite athleticism and a relentless pursuit of excellence. “She’s somebody who doesn’t ever had a bad practice,” Volpe remarked. Adding that on Lennon’s self assessed “bad days” the outside hitter will stay late, pushing herself to be the best version of herself that she can be.
It’s that level of drive, of mental focus, that makes Lennon so dominant. Every match has ups and downs. Mistakes are made, even by players as consistent as Lennon. It’s those who have the mental fortitude and the focus to put look past those mistakes and move forward that are able to ascend from good to great.
Lennon was great last season. Watching her take the next step in 202o is going to special.
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