It is not often that you look at someone and know they are going to be the middle blocker for the No.19 volleyball team in the nation. For Rob Bernard, Colorado Performance club head coach, he knew Samantha Peters was destined to be a Division I player.
In her final year in the a green and gold uniform, Peters filled the shoes of last year’s graduated middle blockers Megan …and Dana Cranston. Peters grew up with the notion that hard work pays off. After dedicating herself to the game in high school and then playing at Santa Clara and a club team here at Colorado Performance, she has found her niche as a Ram.
For Peters, the journey to CSU volleyball began in seventh grade when she began recreational volleyball. With height on her side, she quickly realized volleyball was where she was meant to be.
In her freshman year in high school, she knew playing for club would expand her level and improve her ability.
“When I recruited her as a freshman in high school, the best way to describe her was big and goofy,” Bernard said. “Obviously we recognized that she had outstanding potential from the start so we coached her in a way to bring it all out.”
As a freshman, Peters was brought up to the sophomore team — a promotion which rarely happened.
“She is a great teammate, because she will be what is required — if she needs to be the leader she will be a leader, if she needs to be a follower, she will be a follower. She understands her place and her place in the moment,” Bernard said. “You can’t teach that.”
After suffering from a torn ACL her sophomore year of high school, Peters sat out on her club team and couldn’t play part of the following year. Peters still wears a back brace every practice and game to control her bulging disc, tendonitis in her knee and tendonitis in her bicep.
“I just tried to help her through training because I had to explain to her and her mother over and over again: you are gonna be fine, you are going to be good, you are going to be great. You have a chance at greatness — you just have to hang in there,” Bernard said. “She cried a lot… let’s just say she was very emotional,”
The start of Peters’ career came when she was accepted to Santa Clara University in California on a full-ride scholarship and Peters left Colorado for the first time. Despite her eagerness to play volleyball against top opponents, she quickly realized Calif. was not a fit.
After the first two weeks, Peters knew she wanted to come right back to Colorado.
“I transferred back and I didn’t even know if I was going to play, so it was very last minute,” Peters said. “I didn’t have a spot on the team, I just decided I wanted to play.”
In her first year at CSU Peters red shirted before she was forced to compete for a chance to step onto the court.
“Everyday I just work on getting better,” Peters said. “I always go in focused and not wanting to waste a single practice or a single rep. If we lose a game later in the season, you don’t wanna go back and think, oh I could have gone harder in practice.”
In the 2013 season, Peters stepped onto the court as the leading senior and middle blocker. Her role as a Ram has transformed from red shirted freshman to starting senior.
Last week CSU extended its undefeated streak to 10 matches, with Peters at the forefront of the team. In two three-set-wins, she averages 1.83 blocks, and 2.83 kills on .412 hitting percentage.
Her hard work has paid off. Peters is the third consecutive CSU player to win MW player of the week.
Headed into Thursday’s match against Air Force, Peters knows her fundamentals are the key to her hitting success and the overall benefit of this team.
“She always worked as hard as she could to be a leader on the team and she never gave up,” Jenny Peters said. “She has really transformed into a great player and person. I am really proud of her.”
Collegian Volleyball Beat Reporter Haleigh Hamblin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.