After breaking Yale’s record for assists as a freshman, Jacqueline Becker ’06 earned another distinction last week: Ivy League Rookie of the Year.
Becker, who had 962 assists from her setter position and led the Bulldogs with 12 double-doubles, won the Rookie of the Week award twice this season and led the team to a 14-13 (7-7 Ivy) record. She also was named to the All-Ivy Second Team.
Last year, Becker’s 18-and-under Laguna Beach Volleyball Club team won the Southern California region and then won the national Davis Volleyball Festival in Sacramento, Calif., earning a No. 2 national ranking.
With such experience, the transition to Division I volleyball was not overwhelming, and Becker had success right off the bat. She won the starting setter job in fall practice and ended up playing in 88 of the team’s 92 games.
At first, earning respect on the court as a freshman was difficult, especially at a position that requires vocal skills; but the reticent Becker said she was able to lead by example.
“I like to think of myself as very active on the court, if it’s not playing, than in a vocal sense, telling other people what to do,” Becker said. “The respect kind of comes with the way you play. You don’t really have to say anything, you just prove it on the court.”
For Becker and the the team’s five other freshmen, grabbing a year of experience is essential for future success.
“Every year, we’ll be able to become better leaders on the court,” Becker said. “We’ll have the ability to know everything that’s going on, and we’ll know our opponents, having played them each twice now.”
At the end of the season, Becker, who has been setting since sixth grade, started playing outside hitter in some of the rotations. She said the transition was the most challenging point of the season.
“I messed up a lot at first,” Becker said. “I was really afraid at first to swing at the ball, and I made mistakes, but once I started swinging, good things would happen.”
Although the team’s record and fourth-place Ivy League finish were both better than last season’s output, Becker said there is a great deal of room for improvement. Last autumn, Yale went 10-14 (3-11).
And the team’s future looks bright. Renee Lopes ’06 also won the Rookie of the Week award during the season and finished second in the league in hitting percentage. Taryn Gallup ’04 and Jana Freeman ’05 earned All-Ivy Honorable Mentions.