Freshman Jolie Rasmussen has stepped onto the court and into the spotlight for Oregon volleyball this season.
Rasmussen comes from a volleyball family – her father, mother and sister all played at the collegiate level. Now, Rasmussen is taking on the Pac-12.
The Ducks opened up the 2016-17 season against then-ranked No. 2 University of Texas and No. 10 University of Florida in Eugene. Oregon took a set against each opponent, but lost both matches. However, Rasmussen shined in the Florida match with 13 kills, three aces and five digs in the four-set defeat.
“[Playing against two top 10 opponents] opened our eyes a little bit,” Rasmussen said following the Florida match. “We’re pretty young and four of us are playing that are freshmen who have never played at this level. It’s good to start off high and then now we see what we’re up against and we can work to get to that level.”
Rasmussen was sidelined for the Oregon Classic tournament due to an injury, but soon returned to action for the Ducks. She returned to the lineup against Belmont, where the outside hitter had an impressive nine kills.
“She’s really good. She had a good first week and then she was out the next weekend,” head coach Jim Moore said following the match against Belmont. “The one chance we had to see her was the alumni game and she was really good in that. But I think she is going [to be] a very good player.”
At 6-foot-2, Rasmussen poses as an aerial threat for Oregon in the attack. After a dominant high school career in San Diego, California, which saw her ranked No. 20 on PrepVolleyball.com’s Senior Aces list, Rasmussen had to adjust to the massive step from the high school court to the collegiate court.
“[College players] hit harder; they are better passers,” Rasmussen said. “Everything is a level up and you have to catch on. It was hard at first but I think we’re getting there.”
Not only is the change to Division I volleyball big, the leap into the highly-competitive Pac-12 conference is demanding. Rasmussen did not shy away from the big stage, tallying 11 kills in the Pac-12 opener against Oregon State. Lindsey Vander Weide and Amanda Benson have provided plenty of support for the young and dynamic recruiting class on campus.
“They’re always stable and they’re always going to be on,” Rasmussen said of her experienced teammates. “We have a solid core and having four freshmen play, we can mesh in there.”
With multiple freshmen playing, a bond between them has formed, including an on-court call of “fresh meat,” which is also the name of the freshmen text message group chat. Even with the remarkable start for the freshmen, Jim Moore continues urging them to improve.
“He pushes us to be better,” Rasmussen said of Moore. “It’s going to take us as far as we can be.”
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