When Viktorija Jablonska transferred to TWU a year ago, she was projected to become a standout front-line attacker for the volleyball team. She delivered and has more than lived up to her billing.
Last weekend, however, the 6-foot senior from Russia displayed a little versatility in her game. And in doing so she pulled off a rare feat in the sport — a triple-double. In fact, she accomplished it twice.
“In volleyball, a triple-double is very rare,” TWU head coach Shelly Barberee said. “In fact, I’ve been in coaching for 16 years and I’ve seen it happen only three times.”
That includes the pair of triple-doubles — recording double-figure statistics in three separate categories during a match — that Jablonska, who was named Lone Star Conference Player of the Week, collected over the weekend. In addition to her outstanding play as a hitter at the net, she rotated into a defensive position as a setter in the Pioneers’ four matches Friday and Saturday and wound up registering double-digit totals in kills, digs and assists for her first career triple-doubles.
The only other player Barberee, now in her 10th year at TWU, has ever seen attain a triple-double was former Pioneer Carly Messmer in 2004.
“With Viktorija, we really threw her into that role without her practicing,” Barberee said. “She’s our dominant attacker, but at the JUCO level she was also a setter. We had her on the front row last year because on the back row she kind of hurt us defensively. We had setters who had stepped up above her.
“Now, we still see Viktorija as a hitter, but this weekend she was one of our setters as well. And she performed well. She set nice balls. Of course, she put down a tremendous amount of balls. So we still see her as our hitter, but thank goodness she’s got great hands as well.”
Last year Jablonska earned player of the year, all-conference and all-region honors for her play at the net. But this year she’s displayed additional skills on the court that now include her defensive abilities as well as her talents as a server — she’s been utilized as a server for the first time this season and currently leads the Pioneers with five service aces.
Last weekend, in a five-set win over Fort Hays State and a four-set loss to Colorado Mesa, Jablonska was kept on the floor and rotated to the back line, where she was required to provide the team with defensive digs and assists as a setter.
Barberee informed Jablonska of the rotation changes in the middle of TWU’s match against Fort Hays State on Friday, and Jablonska responded by adding 14 digs and 13 assists to her 22 kills in the match.
The next day she racked up 16 kills, 18 assists and 15 digs in a loss to Colorado Mesa.
Jablonska’s role as a triple-threat player in the future depends on matchups with opponents and how well the other setters play in practice, Barberee said.
“I’m proud of Viktorija for doing what she did, but the fact is we have people challenging every day for spots,” Barberee said. “And if [a setter] steps up this week and does their job, well, Viktorija will still be out there [as a hitter] on the court swinging, I can promise you that.”
Victory had perfect timing
There’s nothing like a 6-0 manhandling of an opponent to get a team ready for conference play. So the Pioneers’ shutout victory over Northwestern Oklahoma State on Sunday was timed perfectly.
The explosive sendoff was TWU’s first win in four nonconference warmups, and the Pioneers can now focus on
the remaining Lone Star Conference portion of the 2012 season. TWU opens LSC play on the road this weekend, meeting Eastern New Mexico on Friday and West Texas A&M on Sunday.
Sunday’s thumping of Northwestern Oklahoma State was the Pioneers’ first shutout victory in two years — since a 1-0 win over Eastern New Mexico in 2010.
The win snapped a nine-game losing streak dating to last season, and the six goals scored by the Pioneers were the most since 2005, when they scored a school-record 14 goals in a win over Texas Southern.
Brittany Martin led a balanced offensive attack with three goals and an assist, while Katy Black, Taylor Maxson and Emily Davila contributed solo goals. It was the first career goal for Maxson, a graduate of Ryan who transferred to TWU this year from East Tennessee State.
In goal, sophomore transfer Lindsay Sisco played her second complete game of the young season and registered six saves in the win.
Martin makes record book
Martin’s three goals Sunday placed her in the TWU record books.
The senior forward became only the fourth Pioneers player in school history to score three or more goals in a game when her three-goal effort led to a 6-0 victory over Northwestern Oklahoma State.
Jackie Neceoto holds the TWU record for most goals in a game with four against Texas Southern in 2005. Martin joins two other players who have scored three goals in a game: Emily Meinen against Texas Southern in 2005 and Chastity Hayter against Southwestern Oklahoma State in 2008.
Nearing 2011 point total
Four games into the season, Martin is already nearing her team-leading point total from all of last season.
Thanks to her scoring four goals along with an assist in two games last weekend, Martin has produced 10 points this season.
She leads the team in total points and is only one point shy of matching last season’s team-leading total of 11 points.
Five show for open tryout
Five students showed up Monday night at Kitty Magee Arena to participate in an open tryout for the 2012-13team.
“I really appreciate their effort and for their time it took to come out and try out,” said head coach Beth Jillson, who conducted the hour-long session along with assistant coach Michael Madrid. “We’ll evaluate later to see if any of them can help us out in practice.”
The Pioneers are scheduled to open the season Nov. 13 at Ouachita Baptist.