Nov. 1, 2007
It's November 2006 and the women's volleyball All PAC teams have just been selected. One name, however, has been left off the list. For the second year in a row, Rachael Sokolovich has been named to the All PAC Honorable Mention Team. Earning a spot on that team is not an easy task and Rachael will tell you she's grateful for the honor, but for those who see her demonstrate her talents night in and night out at Bruder Gymnasium, they know she deserves a lot better.
Although you didn't see her name on an All PAC team last season, the outside hitting Junior from Media, PA, would be the first one you'd notice on the court. At 5'7," Sokolovich (her teammates call her Soko) looks a lot taller than she is but also plays a lot taller than she looks. The outside hitter is equipped with enough power to make even a die-hard fan cringe when she fires the ball into her opponent's court. (She had 347 kills as a sophomore!) Oh, and one warning to anyone who has vertigo, don't come to the games because her vertical leap could make you sick. Did I mention that she takes pride on the defensive side of the ball as well? Last season, she accumulated 213 digs or nine more than she had as a freshman.
In addition to her power and leaping skills, she has one other attribute that rules above the rest and that's her ability to be a leader. A captain for two years now, Rachael has a knack for making those around her better on the court. As Head Coach Deana Jespersen says, "One of the greatest attributes of Soko is her willingness to become a better volleyball player. She is an extremely coachable player and she takes criticism constructively, and in turn challenges herself to take risks and learn new things on the court. Every year she has gotten better and every year she strengthens her desire to take this team one step further. I value her work ethic and I love that she is never just satisfied, but instead works hard so that the team is successful. She does not seem to focus on individual accolades, but instead thrives on the team's success."
In addition to her background, personal skills, and leadership abilities, Rachael's focus this season is on one goal and that is winning the PAC conference. In order to achieve this goal, it's highly probable that the Knights will have to defeat Eastern University, the reigning PAC champions for the past ten years in a row. However, if there is a year where Neumann can win the PAC, this could be it. Rachael and her teammates own a 15-8 record and, at 7-0, are undefeated in the PAC Conference. When the Knights hosted Misericordia University back on October 1st, it was apparent there was something special about this team. Both teams were 5-0 going into the match and Neumann swept the Cougars in three quick games. Coach Jespersen knew her team was headed in the right direction when she said, "I have never been more proud or excited about the way this team played tonight." Despite the team's great efforts, there is no doubt Rachael Sokolovich has played a huge part in her team's success.
Like every year, this November the votes will come in, the all conference team's will be selected, and Sokolovich's name will either be there or it won't. However, if I could vote for one girl in the PAC who I would want to build a championship team around, I'd surely let Rachael Sokolovich see my picks, because she'd be the very first name on my list.
Neumann College Athletics Women's Volleyball