Kaitlan Tucker named CCAA Defensive Player of the Week

By Deena Wicker, Oct. 25, 2022

The California Collegiate Athletic Association announced Cal Poly Pomona’s Kaitlan Tucker Defensive Player of the Week for the week of Sept. 26-Oct. 2.

Tucker, a middle blocker from Bakersfield, received the accolade following two wins against Cal State East Bay and Cal State San Marcos where she managed a total of nine blocks. Against CSUEB, Tucker executed eight kills without an error and a season-high of 11 kills against CSUSM.

Middle blockers like Tucker typically do not get recognized for the honor, but the tireless work she has put in through the season led to the award.

Courtesy of Kaitlan Tucker

Currently leading all of Division II with an average of 1.28 blocks per set, Tucker was surprised to be acknowledged by the conference.

“I was super excited,” said Tucker. “My blocking stats have been a lot better than they’ve ever been. It’s something I’ve been working on a lot, so it was exciting to be recognized by the conference.”

Determined to prepare for the season, Tucker used much of her spare time in personal training to enhance her performance on the court, despite regulations against mandatory off-season training. Additionally, Tucker attended open gym sessions with her teammates to strengthen both skill and rapport.

With a collaborative effort, CPP volleyball statistics have been remarkable, displaying their powerful team chemistry according to Tucker.

“It’s super competitive,” said Tucker. “We’re always pushing each other and just getting to work every single day. That way, when I go into a game it doesn’t feel like anything new; it’s what we’ve been training for. It’s just executing.”

Tucker was no stranger to athletics as the daughter of two collegiate athletes. Tucker played a variety of sports including basketball, soccer, softball and tennis in her youth.

Volleyball became prevalent in Tuckers’ life in fifth grade, when a friend who played the sport invited her to join. From there, Tucker fell in love with volleyball and continued playing through middle school, advancing into clubs and varsity.

Tucker’s transition from high school to collegiate volleyball was smooth, though she recognized major differences in game paces and diversity.

“Everyone’s from different places, play for different coaches and all that, so that’s what’s fun about college volleyball,” said Tucker. “It’s just different from high school and club where you’re around very similar people or play with the same people for a long time.”

Tucker noted the most distinct factor between the two levels to be engagement alongside the changes in pace and dynamics. In high school, much of her life revolved around volleyball. As a Bronco, her life and the game are indistinguishable.

Between game studies, training room sessions, practices, traveling, matches and team bonding, Tucker finds her college experience intertwined with volleyball.

“It totally consumes your life,” said Tucker. “But it’s really fun and I love it.”

Though many college students struggle with time management, Tucker has mastered the skill through her obligations as a collegiate athlete and biology major. Procrastination is not an option for Tucker, as she aims to build a career as a physician’s assistant while upholding her athletic commitments.

Tucker’s aspirations reach beyond the volleyball courts in California, a life she has known for the past 12 years. Post-graduation, Tucker expressed plans to travel and attend a PA program, which can last anywhere from 24 to 27 months.

Tucker intends to apply to multiple programs due to the field’s competitive nature. Having attended a California college as a state native, Tucker confirmed her eagerness to broaden her experiences as a young adult.

Part of broadening said horizons comes through applying to some out of state programs, specifically in the Midwest.

“I definitely just want to experience something different and new for a few years,” said Tucker. “I 100 percent see myself living in California when I’m older, and I’ve always lived here, so I’m just like ‘I need to live somewhere else at one time in my life.’”

Aspirations aside, volleyball will likely remain relevant in Tucker’s life for the long run. Although unsure of her exact plan after collegiate athletics, Tucker is open to teaching her own children, club or high school coaching, professional leagues, adult teams or even participating in an overseas league.

While excited for the opportunities to come, Tucker remains focused on completing a successful season and moving on to her final year as a CPP athlete.

Feature image courtesy of Kaitlan Tucker

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