Oct. 6, 2006
Determination is proving to become a very successful trait for one individual on the Iowa volleyball team. After transferring to Iowa after two years at Cal State Fullerton, senior middle hitter Melanie Meister has changed some work habits to take her game to another level
That level is currently taking her statistics to new heights. A year ago, Meister was averaging two kills per game, just under one block per game, and had a hitting percentage of .222. Halfway through this season she is averaging 3.17 kills per game, 1.18 blocks, and has a .325 hitting percentage. The drastic change has been due, in part, to her confidence which has grown and allowed her to become a better player.
When she transferred to Iowa, she was a quiet player and saw herself leading by example. After a year in the system, she has become much more of a vocal leader. Head Coach Cindy Fredrick believes it’s because her confidence has grown.
“I think she’s got more confidence and with that comes the drive to improve. Those things feed off each other,” said Fredrick. “That confidence comes from the hard work that you put in. It’s real hard to get confidence if you don’t have the work ethic and the ability to be good. She has both.”
Her hard work started during the offseason when Associate Head Coach, Mashallah Farokhmanesh, created workouts for the players to improve their quickness, conditioning, and agility. To go along with that, Meister ran stairs to improve her explosiveness. She estimates that she was in the gym 3-4 days a week.
“The makeup of her body has changed,” said Fredrick. “She has great muscle tone and that makes a difference in your quickness and jumping ability and everything else.”
To go along with her workouts, Strength Coach Jim Cavallini made Meister his own project as far as conditioning. He set a goal for the team to run the mile in 7:30. But, Meister didn’t think it was an easy goal to meet. Eventually, through hard work during the offseason, she was able to meet the goal.
To help her physical conditioning, Meister played a lot of sand volleyball with her sister Christina, who is a freshman on the team. The sand helped build muscle in her legs. It improved her jumping while conditioning her legs without the constant pounding on her joints she would receive while running on harder surfaces. The other advantage is that she was constantly playing volleyball.
Her fitness level may have increased dramatically, but Coach Fredrick has seen a lot of growth through practice. Last spring, the middle hitters and setters worked a lot trying to perfect the slide. When Meister first came to Iowa, she was not fond of this move. After putting in the work during the offseason, it is arguably her best hit.
The work ethic she has shown both on and off the court is a direct result of her position on the team. As a captain, she must be a team leader in all aspects.
“I had a lot of goals for myself and ideas on how I wanted to lead this team,” said Meister. “I looked at how I led the team last year and how we did. I looked at that and thought about what I wanted to change and how I could change what I was doing.”
The change was her determination to improve. With only two other seniors on the team, Meister is setting an example to others about how working hard does pay off in the end.
“I’d like to see them work as hard as she does,” said Fredrick about Meister’s teammates. “I’d like to see them work even harder. I look at it and say if you want to be good, then you’ve got to play year round. If you want to be good you’ve got to put the effort forth. You’ve got to be playing volleyball when somebody else isn’t playing volleyball. You’ve got to have the heart and drive if you want to be good; otherwise you’re just going to be like everyone else.”