Taylor leads nation in assists

Tim Downer

In her first two seasons on the NKU volleyball team, junior setter Sara Taylor has experienced nothing but success.

With two consecutive 25-plus win seasons and being named to the Great Lakes Valley Conference All-Conference team twice, Taylor came into the 2002 season with a simple goal, to lead the team and help make it the best it could be.

While helping to lead the Norse to a 22-10 record, finishing second in the GLVC, Taylor also became only the third volleyball player in NKU history to lead the nation in any individual statistical category.

Taylor, who won two state championships at Louisville’s Assumption High School, finished the 2002 season averaging 13.82 assists per game, a mark that led the entire nation.

“I wouldn’t have been able to get that many assists if it wasn’t for my teammates doing their job too,” said Taylor. “It really is a statistic that shows how well the team played.”

She finished with a total of 1,465 assists in 106 games played.

Taylor came to NKU after being recruited by head coach Carlos Chia, and quickly fit in well with the team. The setter position was already filled her freshman year, so Taylor played mainly as a defensive specialist, an experience Chia believes has helped her grow into the player she is now.

“Having played another position besides setter, I think she understands the jobs that the other players have to do while out on the court, and that has made her a better player,” said Chia. “She has grown into a quiet team leader.”

During Chia’s tenure at NKU, he has established a great tradition of recruiting and developing great setters. For the past two years, Taylor has stepped into that role and boosted the play of the entire team.

In Chia’s mind what puts her ahead of all other setters in the nation, is that she has success in other aspects of the game besides just getting assists. This season she finished second on the team with 36 serving aces, and also had 258 digs.

“If you look around the league at all other setters Sara has better all-around stats than most,” said Chia

Some of Taylor’s best performances this year included the 52 assists and 13 digs against Wisconsin-Parkside, and the six kills, 39 assists and .750 hitting percentage she had in a match against Bellarmine.

Taylor averaged 10.2 assists per game in 2001, and said she was able to improve on those numbers just by getting a lot of repetitions and practice in the offseason.

She also gives a lot of the credit for her success to the positive coaching of Chia.

“[Chia] gives a lot of positive reinforcement while he is coaching during practice,” said Taylor.

That positive attitude is what has led to the success of the Norse in game play. Chia believes that the success of both the women’s basketball and soccer teams has proven that NKU has one of the top athletic programs in NCAA Division II, and he feels the volleyball team is not far behind both of those programs.

“The girls have to know what they want to achieve,” said Chia. “I feel we can follow the success of the other women’s sports at NKU and continue our success to get to the next level.”

“This season was a big learning experience for our young team,” said Taylor, who isn’t one to think of individual goals. “Our goal is to come back and win conference next season and see where it goes from there.”