She can dig it: Paulus rewrites Lakeland volleyball record book
Athletics - posted on 9/14/2009
Brittanie Paulus broke the Lakeland women's volleyball program record for career digs Friday night, passing Amy Lieske `04, who had 1,384 during her career.
However, evidence shows that Paulus, a senior outside hitter for the Muskies, hasn't always exhibited proper form when passing (digging).
Prior to the start of the season, Lakeland coach Chad Schreiber presented Paulus, a Belgium, Wis., native, with a close-up photo (at right) of her hands just after she bumped a ball last season. The image revealed Paulus' thumbs to be crossed, considered bad form and one of the worst habits to get into when passing a volleyball.
"Earlier this season, Chad presented Brittanie a picture from last season of her passing platform just after she hit a ball, when her thumbs were crossed," junior setter Kristine Raeder said. "It was a funny moment, and we all joked around with her about it quite a bit."
In the same manner, Schreiber presented Paulus the same picture, signed "CONGRATS ON THE DIGS RECORD," with her hands highlighted in pink to emphasize her mistake after Lakeland wrapped up play Friday night at the Pizza Hut Classic in Oshkosh.
In the match, a 25-11, 21-25, 22-25, 25-23, 15-13 loss to the University of Chicago, Paulus posted 26 digs, which tied for the eighth-most in a match in Lakeland history and
eclipsed the nine she needed to set the record heading into the contest.
"I'm very proud of the record," Paulus said. "It kind of goes with my personality, in that I was always better at defense in every sport I've ever played. While it is an individual record, the support of my teammates and coaches has been the most important thing to my success throughout my career."
Paulus' ultra-competitive drive, along with her tremendous offensive talent - she tallied a team-high 21 kills in the same match - are what make her who she is, according to Schreiber.
"There are so many parts to Brittanie's game," Schreiber said. "Despite all the great things she does, her defense has been what she's centered her game around since I saw her play in high school. She could definitely break more records before she's done here."
As a former Northern Athletics Conference Player of the Year and an AVCA Division III All-Midwest Region team member, Paulus, a four-year starter, now owns a statistical record to strengthen her career résumé.
More importantly, Paulus, who was named to the All-Tournament team after leading Lakeland to a 3-1 record on the weekend, has been the backbone of a Lakeland program which hasn't dropped a match against a conference opponent since 2006 and is favored to win its third consecutive league title.
Her teammates agree.
Raeder, who competed against Paulus in both volleyball and basketball as a multi-sport athlete at Oostburg (Wis.) High School, joined the Lakeland program in 2007 at the urging of Paulus.
"Defense comes first in volleyball, and Brittanie plays it to the fullest," Raeder said. "She gets to every ball, and has the heart that it takes to play defense. She is a great passer who starts a lot of points for us and a fantastic all-around player. She leaves it all out on the floor every match."
In addition to the team's best all-around player on the court, Paulus also serves as an emotional, competitive, vocal leader. She was named one of Lakeland's three captains prior to the start of the season.
"Brittanie is so good for the morale of our team - she always has something to pick us up," Raeder said. "She leads by example, but always knows what to say. I, myself, am trying to learn about how she leads and the different things she does."
As for the improper form picture, it's safe to say Paulus won't have it framed any time soon.
"When you learn to pass, one of the first things they teach you is not to cross your thumbs over," Paulus said. "Chad likes to joke around with us, and of course the one time I cross my thumbs, it gets caught on camera.
"Let's just say I won't be crossing my thumbs on my passing platform from here on out."
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