Sorry, Jennifer Lopez, but there’s a new girl on the block.
As a setter, senior Jordan Timmer is responsible for running the floor and setting the tempo for her volleyball teammates. She’s mostly behind the scenes, a facilitator.
Timmer has excelled in that role, and leads the Atlantic 10 conference with 605 assists and averages 11.2 assists per set. But, occasionally, Timmer gets in on the action all by herself. This season, she has brought some surprises to the Colonials’ front line of defense after what she called a “blocking epiphany” at the Michigan Invitational at the beginning of the season.
“I told myself to just go grab the ball and then I blocked three in a row,” Timmer said. “I was like, ‘Why? It’s four years later, and I now know to go get the ball.’”
Her ability to read the attack and go to the ball has made her increasingly valuable in more than one aspect of the game.
The setter finished the 2014‒2015 season with 80 total blocks, already a high number for a setter. Through 14 games this season, Timmer is second on the GW roster behind junior middle blocker Chidima Osuchukwu in the blocking category with 40 total blocks this season.
The change isn’t due to new developments in Timmer’s game, head coach Amanda Ault said. She has always been a versatile setter who can get kills at the net as well as augment the blocking game. But those elements of her game have become more refined as she’s matured. She has learned not to overuse her extra weapons, but to use them more effectively.
“When she came in, I told her she was a lot of flash and flare, but what she was actually giving her attackers wasn’t the best situation,” Ault said. “I told her I think she went to it too fast early on in her career, and now she is using it at the right times, and they are not even ready for it.”
Now, Ault said, Timmer is using her multidimensional game the right way. Ault was a setter herself, and said that because of that she pushes Timmer particularly hard.
Timmer has been practicing the block using little foam balls, holding them in her hands and pushing up against a line of teammates standing on boxes on the other side of the net. The ball is taken out of play, so timing is the key focus, and if the ball drops on the side of the blocker she knows she didn’t push over — if it were a live ball it likely would not have been a block.
Timmer said her blocking is best when she is aggressive, not waiting until a ball is coming over the net to choose her spot, but to start thinking about getting a block when the other team sets up a swing.
“Something that we say is the set is not for them, it’s for us,” Timmer said. “Just having the mindset of going and getting it and not being a target, pushing over, helps a lot.”
In Wednesday’s match against Georgetown, Timmer played the game Ault wants. She showcased her adaptability with five kills and one block assist, but focused on running the floor and tallied up 32 assists. When she did take a ball for herself, though, Timmer chose wisely. She was error-free in live play, though she did have one service error.
Her five kills were important, too, because they established her as a player who needed to be guarded or else she’d tip the ball over the net.
“Being versatile, in the way that they can’t just leave me alone because I’ll score, helps Chi Chi and Maggie, and the two outsides have one-on-one blockers,” Timmer said. “This makes it really easy for them, and in that way, it helps open them up more.”
Timmer has been running a strong offense so far, but her versatility may become even more important soon. The team’s other setter, Emily Clemens, has been sidelined with injury but will be worked back into the rotation soon, Ault said.
The more things Timmer can do, the more sets she’s likely to keep playing. Timmer may wish her blocking epiphany had come earlier in her career, but it may have come at the perfect time for her this season.