Confidence and communication are the pillars of senior outside hitter Skylar Iott.
At the beginning of her final season with the Colonials (7–7, 1–0 A-10), Iott notched a career-high in kills (33) against George Mason Saturday. Head coach Sarah Bernson said Iott’s willingness to lead the squad has aided her individual improvements and cultivated a supportive culture among players.
Iott said she entered the season with boosted motivation because she is nearing the end of her GW athletic career. She said players have meshed well with one another, and she has worked to develop strong friendships with other members of the team.
“I also have a lot of my best friends on the team too, so I get to compete with them every day,” Iott said. “In the end, volleyball for me is just being with my best friends, playing the sport that I love.”
Iott leads the team in kills (181), points (208.5) and total attacks (633). She is second to only Dayton redshirt sophomore outside hitter Jamie Peterson in the Atlantic 10 in kills and points.
On the year, Iott has racked up 181 kills, expanding her number of career kills to 919. She is on pace to challenge Cinnamon Burnim, who competed for the Colonials from 1988 to 1991, for No. 10 on the Colonials’ all-time kill list. Burnim tallied 1,104 kills throughout her time at GW.
Iott said that since Bernson joined the program in 2017, the culture of the team has shifted to give players more leeway in their decisions on the court. She said players have also fostered close relationships with one another over the past few years, which helped strengthen their play.
“Past relationships have definitely formed the team that we have today,” Iott said. “I definitely think learning from past seasons have given us an idea of what we want our team to look like and what we want our season to look like.”
This year, Iott said she is focusing on bettering her pre-game mental preparation to ensure she is up for any challenges from opponents.
“A lot of it for me is prep before the match because I like to be in the match and just get to take from my bank of analysis and say, ‘Oh I’ve seen this on film,’ or ‘I knew a player was going to do this, how do I adapt now?’” Iott said.
Bernson said Iott’s accuracy and ability to execute has improved each season. The journey to achieve these goals began when Iott made the switch from playing in the back row to becoming a full-time outside hitter her sophomore year, she said.
She added that Iott exudes confidence, plays with grit and thrives under pressure. Bernson said Iott holds herself to a higher standard after her career-high performance against George Mason and wants to push her teammates to that standard too.
“Determination really transfers into her game as well,” Bernson said. “She wants to push herself just as well as her teammates. She is really into communicating with the team and being with the team both on and off the court. And that’s also been a part of our culture shift the past three years.”
Bernson said Iott’s personal growth has also been an influence on her teammates because she remains composed under pressure and is relied upon to act as “an excellent example for those who are playing behind her.”
“They’re now seeing what their future can be,” she said. “For her to be a good example of an athlete that can execute and handle the pressure and visually teach them how to be in that position will be better for us.”
Iott said she is focused this season on addressing challenges the Colonials may face down the road. She said any conference team can be a threat, and the squad should not take any matchup lightly.
“Going into this weekend, we have to keep the energy,” Iott said. “We had the last three sets last weekend and keep going. You never know, there are teams that beat other teams and you weren’t expecting that.”
Iott and the Colonials are back in action Friday at Duquesne. First serve is at 7 p.m.