By Nate Macay, Sept. 27, 2022
For the third week in a row, volleyball player Daisy Duke won a California Collegiate Athletic Association player of the week award. From Aug. 29 through Sept. 4, she won defensive player of the week. Her offensive dominance was later recognized as she added two straight CCAA offensive player of the week awards.
For Duke, winning the defensive player of the week award was an area of her game that she felt was not noticed until this year.
“It definitely feels pretty amazing,” Duke said. “It’s definitely new this year for me to play backrow as well as me serving. I felt like it was pretty awesome to get both [awards] in the past two weeks.”
While at Alta Loma High School in Rancho Cucamonga, Duke won Palomares League MVP, All-Area First Team, All-SoCal First Team and was an All-Star at the 2018 Inland Valley Volleyball Classic.
Transitioning from high school to Cal Poly Pomona was a new experience. For Duke, it took some time to get used to the game at a collegiate level.
“I noticed right away the speed was so much quicker,” Duke said. “It definitely took some time to get used to sets, blocks, hits because you’re playing against a lot of stronger, faster volleyball players. I kind of really adjusted last year, I would say, to getting comfortable, and ever since that I feel like I have a better grip on it.”
Duke is in her third season at CPP and has been off to a great start leading the CCAA with 3.95 kills per set and 4.58 points per set this year. While taking pride in striving to be better, she hopes to maintain her consistency on the defensive side.
“I want to be able to get a good blocking record,” Duke said. “My coaches have always just wanted me to succeed in offense, but now I want to strive to be more consistent on defense. I don’t just want to have a game where my kills were good but my blocks weren’t. Being more consistent of being a blocker and defense as well are my goals for the year.”
Duke mentioned that the practices are very competitive, and coming into the season, her teammates have shared both long term and short term goals with one another. For this season, winning the conference title is one of their biggest goals, but another point of emphasis for the roster is the mental side of the sport.
“If you are able to be mentally prepared and mentally ready to play a game, it’s just as important,” Duke said. “My teammates and coaches have helped me be smarter when knowing when to go all out on a swing or when to tip a ball in certain situations.”
Majoring in criminology, Duke took a lot of time to find balance between being a student and being an athlete.
“It was definitely a struggle at first for me academic wise and me being a volleyball player,” Duke said. “It took time, and took a lot of my free time away as well, like when I was a freshman and sophomore.”
Through the pandemic, being secure in a major she enjoyed, Duke was able to manage her time best as a student athlete.
“After COVID, I had a better grip of controlling my academics, and once I figured out what major I liked, it definitely helped push towards my academic goals. I have been able to deal with the stress and impact a lot better now,” Duke said.
In 2021, Duke won the CCAA volleyball player of the week three times to go along with All-CCAA First Team, AVCA All-West Region First Team, AVCA All-America Third Team and a CCAA All-Tournament Selection.
In her freshman season, Duke mentioned that head coach Traci Dahl pushed her to see the bigger picture and motivated her to work on her defensive side.
“She helped pushed me because she saw me as an all rotation player and I always wanted to be all rotation,” Duke said. “She wanted me to be All American and helped me set that goal, and I thought it would be cool and ended up winning it. This year, she wants me to go for player of the year.”
Staying on the same page and keeping up the same level of competitiveness at practice is something Duke mentioned is important for her and her teammates if they want to keep up this level of success.
“We could all just keep working hard at practice and stay competitive,” Duke said. “It feels like we are playing other teams at practice. To have that drive to be better each and every day at practice is what’s going to get us to keep winning and not letting our foot off that gas pedal for the next two months.”
Currently on top of the standings in the conference, the Broncos remain undefeated against conference opponents and are on a 12-game winning streak. Duke and her teammates hope to continue their winning ways throughout the season with the national title as their ultimate goal.
Feature Image courtesy of Daisy Duke
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