Fall preview – Levey: setting examples for team

When Drew Bledsoe has a bad day, the New England Patriots don’t win. If Brett Favre has a rough season, the Packers aren’t going to the Super Bowl. The quarterback is the team leader, someone who sets the tone, controls the pace, and defines the team. And that’s exactly what volleyball interim coach Jojit Coronel describes Jill Levey as – the team’s quarterback, poised to lead the Colonials to the Atlantic 10 Tourney.

The senior tri-captain is the Colonials’ starting setter, a position that demands mental and physical decision-making ability that affects the team’s performance.

Levey has become court-savvy and has gained the experience needed to make the right decisions and keep her team focused in pressure situations.

The team’s Most Valuable Player in her freshman and sophomore years in 1997-98, Levey made the A-10 All-Conference Team in 1998. She ranks third all-time in assists and sixth on the all-time digs list for GW. Looking to carry all this success into the 2000 season, Levey has started out strong, leading the team to its winningest 10-game start in team history (9-1). She has already been named A-10 Player of the Week this season.

(Jill) has been playing all her life, and she brings a lot of experience to the team, Coronel said.

Levey said she knows the importance of her role, but tries to not let the pressure get to her.

I know when I get flustered, the whole team suffers, Levey said.

In one of her most important leadership roles, Levey serves as the team’s calming force, providing stability and consistency to an explosive and powerful squad.

Coronel said Levey is a leader off the court as well, giving the Colonials someone to depend on whenever they need her. It is a role Levey took on right from the start, the coach said.

Everyone looks at her great work ethic and her teammates respect her as a person and a player, Coronel said.

Teammates said Levey serves as a mother figure to a team. She leads a squad that has veteran experience (six seniors and one junior) and energetic newcomers (one sophomore, six freshmen), and she encourages them to take on all setbacks and obstacles head on, both personally and as a team. Levey stresses how strong the team’s tight-knit group of seniors have become, and she said she hopes she can pass that closeness to the younger team members.

Overcoming setbacks is what sets apart the good teams, Levey said.

And overcoming setbacks is a subject Levey and her whole team know well. The Colonials’ head coach Yvette Moorehead died Aug. 9, forcing the women to stay mentally tough through early games. Levey and the Colonials have overcome the misfortune and have grown stronger.

We came together and decided to move on, and we became closer, Levey said. Whenever someone has a bad day we can get personal and talk about it.

Levey is also familiar with personal setbacks. Late last season Levey fractured her left fibula, causing her to miss crucial games down the stretch. Levey persevered, making it back for the team’s A-10 Tournament run in November. Levey said she hopes to stay healthy this year and have her best season yet.

(The injury) makes my desire to win even stronger because it was a missed opportunity, Levey said. And I don’t want this year to be the same. I want to go out on top.

As much success as she has had in her GW career, Levey is the first one to give credit to others. Levey said her recognition as A-10 Player of the Week was more than a personal accomplishment.

It highlights the whole team and proves that we did well on our first weekend, Levey said.

Levey respects the reciprocity essential to teamwork. She said she knows that as she performs her responsibilities with consistency, she can count on her teammates to execute theirs as well.

My setting was consistent (last weekend) and I made good decisions on who to give the ball to, Levey said. But my hitters put the ball down.

Levey’s leadership, consistency and experience, along with tri-captains Suzana Manole and Renee Arnold could lead the team to its first A-10 championship since 1995. Her co-captains described Levey as the fireball of the team.

So while some quarterbacks are struggling this season, GW’s got one of its own that is on top of her game. And that means trouble for other GW all-time leaders, and more importantly, for the rest of the Atlantic 10.

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