She turns 22 years of age on the 28th of this month, but to her teammates, JuliAnne Chisholm says, "I'm Momma Bear ... the grandma."
And like a good momma bear would do, Chisholm is doing her best to care for her nine freshmen Kansas State volleyball cubs.
Laughing, Chisholm says, "If it's a bad day, they come to me and ask if we can make some chocolate chip or chocolate peanut butter cookies, then we'll talk about what happened during the day or at practice. I always have cookie stuff on hand. It happens frequently."
K-State scored its first volleyball win of the year on Wednesday over South Dakota, after opening the year with a 3-0 loss to UCLA, 3-0 setback to Hawaii, and 3-1 defeat to San Diego.
Three losses, but as Chisholm says, "When we went back over the tapes, you could see areas where we improved with every match. We didn't win, but we had those moments like with Kaitlynn Pelger getting those 10 blocks against Hawaii. We just worked better together in each match and continued to grow."
Chisholm had 14, six and 10 kills from her outside-hitter position in the three matches, but as important as posting those numbers, she says, "My job is to be an example and keep things steady. I can't let the lows get too low or the highs too high. My job is keeping the girls focused on that next point."
A year ago, the Hillsboro, Kan., native says she might not have been able to do her job, plus ... well, serve as a Momma Bear to the rest of this youthful team.
"I'm trying to do my part, yet trying to help someone else do better. That's part of growing up and maturing within the game," said Chisholm, who had 11 kills, 15 digs and three blocks in Wednesday's win over South Dakota. "I'm trying to help with the things I needed help with when I was a freshman."
Oh, do these young ladies of 18-years old seem young to Chisholm?
"Yes ... yes, they really do," Chisholm laughed. "There are times on the bus they will start singing, and I'll think, 'Oh my word, what are they doing?' And then I think how I was doing the same things only three years ago."
While surrounded by just "cubs" in the collegiate game of volleyball, Chisholm says it's not going to take long for this squad to start collecting victories.
"I'm very optimistic. This is a team with a great potential," said Chisholm, a third team academic All-American and First Team Academic All-Big 12 award winner in 2009. "When we get some things figured out, I think we're going to be great. We have so many athletes and girls who are willing to absorb information. They want to learn and they want to get better."
PELGER ALL-TOURNAMENT: Freshman middle blocker Kaitlynn Pelger made the all-tournament team in Hawaii.
Her debut series of matches included 10 blocks against Hawaii, plus she had a total of 22 kills in the three matches.
VARNEY'S INVITATIONAL: Kansas State will be hosting the Varney's Invitational on Friday and Saturday in Ahearn Field House.
Friday, K-State will play Loyola Marymount at 12:30 p.m. and Oral Roberts at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, the Wildcats entertain Georgia Tech in a 7 p.m. match.
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