Her ginger ponytail flounces behind her every time she dives after the ball, eliciting cheers and whoops from the Sinclair Gymnasium crowd with each save. Junior libero Sarah Driscoll, affectionately known as “Drizzy,” is everywhere on the court. Spectators could be fooled into thinking she has an identical twin.
But she doesn’t have a secret twin. What Driscoll has is grit, intensity and the focus to attack every play to the fullest. It’s made her a two-time CAA Defensive Player of the Week, and most importantly, a two-time CAA champion. Driscoll is having the best season in her collegiate career. She’s seen action in all 21 matches and has double-digit digs in 20 of them. Against Elon and VCU, she tallied career-highs in assists and digs at eight and 34, respectively.
Driscoll isn’t the only one who contributes to the team’s defense — it starts with the blockers forcing opposing hitters into tough shots — but her passing is key to the team’s success. When Driscoll is on the floor, the Dukes play with confidence knowing that she’ll save them from any mistakes they may make.
“I think she’s great to have back there,” junior outside hitter Briley Brind’Amour said. “She instills a lot of confidence in us when we’re swinging. I know she’s behind me and she wants me to swing. She’s like ‘No, I’ll cover you, I have you’ which instills confidence in us. To know she’s back there and wants us to do well is great.”
Despite her skill at her position, Driscoll didn’t originally want to be a libero. While she’s played every position in volleyball, she’s most fond of setting. However, at 5 feet, 5 inches, Driscoll lacks the height most teams look for in their setters.
“I was really into setting, so I’m still into setting,” Driscoll said. “I envy Sarah [Martin], Tilbe [Yaglioglu], Amy [Gottschling] and Rebecca [Frye]. I think they’re so cool. If I was tall I think I’d be a setter for sure.”
Driscoll may long to be a setter, but she’s flourished as the libero. However, she maintains that she’s still vying for the setters’ position.
While she’s played many sports in her life — track, gymnastics and basketball among them — volleyball is the one Driscoll loves most. It’s all she talks about with her roommate and teammate Martin. She thanks her mother Lisa, who played volleyball at Mount St. Joseph, for getting her into the sport.
Both Driscoll and middle blocker M’Kaela White switched from basketball to volleyball for the same reason: both hated running. In Driscoll’s case, her high school was highly competitive in both sports, forcing her to choose one.
“I never knew it, but [my mom] would talk to my dad and be like, ‘Oh, I think she’s really good at volleyball compared to basketball,’” Driscoll said. “I think in a way she pushed me to play volleyball, but I’m glad she did.”
She began playing her sophomore year of high school. Driscoll may have started the sport late, but her starting role on a CAA championship team belies her obvious aptitude. As big as her role is on the court, her importance to her teammates off the court shouldn’t be underestimated.
“She has a very bubbly personality,” White said. “Very easy to talk to. Such a goofball. Always laughing and stuff like that. Playing with that, I think, is really good.”
Driscoll’s vivacious personality is apparent in everything she does, from her ritual high-fives before matches to her cheers and celebrations. While everyone is important in the Dukes’ volleyball family, Driscoll has carved a spot in it that’s uniquely her own. She’s the zany one, the silly one, the fun one, and her high-octane personality has created many memorable stories.
“One time, she decided to make bacon but left it on the stove,” Brind’Amour said. “She goes to make bacon, runs upstairs, leaves it, smokes the whole house up with bacon-smell.”
While she still has time left at JMU, Driscoll has big ideas for post-college life. She plans on romping around the globe.
“I’m going to get my masters here for education and then I think I’m going to take some time and travel abroad,” Driscoll said. “Maybe teach at an abroad program in Europe, and then come back and get my Ph.D. at University of Michigan.”
With her remaining time at JMU, Driscoll wishes to raise the bar for the volleyball program to historical heights, leaving an enduring legacy for all the players who will one day wear the purple and gold. With two championships already and a potential three-peat on the horizon, Drizzy looks to be doing just that.
Contact Michael Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more volleyball coverage, follow the Breeze sports desk on twitter at @theBreezeSports.