When Denison head coach Sandy McMillan was going over her potential roster for the season, she wasn’t sure what she was going to get out of Jamiah Ballard.
The sophomore hitter didn’t decide to play volleyball until late in her freshman and only participated in junior varsity practices so there was no baseline to judge where her talent level had improved.
“I knew how good an athlete she was so I knew it was going to be a good thing,” McMillan said.
It turned out that Ballard would end up being the focal point of a Lady Yellow Jacket offense that had to replace its top three hitters from the prior season.
“At first I didn’t know if I would fit in,” Ballard said. “I thought I would be on JV. She said my name with the varsity group and I was like, ‘Well, hey.’”
Ballard finished her first varsity season with 315 kills, 58 blocks, 105 digs and 25 aces.
Even though Denison struggled in district play, finishing at the bottom of the standings for the second straight season, Ballard’s play was recognized by opposing 13-4A coaches and earned her first-team all-district honors.
Ballard’s emergence has earned her the nod as the Herald Democrat All-Texomaland Volleyball Newcomer of the Year for the 2013 season.
But she realizes that she is just scratching the surface of her potential.
“I have to work harder on the back row,” she said. “I want to be able to play the whole way around.”