Jenna Hagglund Sets High Bar For Excellence
By Zach Ruby
Oct. 23, 2008
In only her second collegiate year, sophomore setter Jenna Hagglund has already made her mark on the Husky volleyball team.
Last year she finished second in the Pac-10 and 10th in the nation with 13.54 assists per set.
"She's a talented player and a talented athlete," coach Jim McLaughlin said. "She's a smart athlete. She works hard, has a nice skill level and can play the game at a high level."
Her 1,422 assists last season was the sixth best single-season mark in school history.
And this year Hagglund is even better. She is fourth in the nation in assists per set with 11.82, and she is the first Husky in three years to win the AVCA Player of the Week award after leading the UW to victories over then-No. 8 UCLA and No. 11 USC. In those two games, she recorded 56 and 57 assists in back-to-back nights. "Clearly, it was a return on all the hard work," McLaughlin said. "She played well and made good choices and we got a couple of very good wins."
Despite her success at the sport, Hagglund was not always interested in volleyball. She first picked up the sport in fifth grade and played competitively for the first time in junior high.
"I only played volleyball because we didn't have soccer as a sport," Hagglund said.
Her opinion of the sport quickly changed and she played on her first club team in the eighth grade and never looked back.
"In eighth grade, I tried out for my club, my first [Junior Olympic] team, and fell in love with it," she said. "The next year I didn't try out for soccer and tried out for volleyball instead."
Hagglund's road to the Huskies wasn't an easy one, however. While athletics usually came easy for Hagglund, early in her volleyball career she made the difficult switch from outside hitter to setter.
"When I switched from hitter to setter, things got really hard really fast, as I hadn't been doing that my whole life," Hagglund said. "I was really frustrated."
However, good fortune was not far from the discouraged competitor. In fact, she regained her confidence due to an auspicious message in a fortune cookie.
"One day I got a fortune cookie that said, `You'll make changes before setting satisfactory,'" she said. "I still have it and it is framed on my desk right now. I keep it with me all the time."
Despite the hardship, Hagglund thinks the position switch was worth the trouble.
"I love setting," Hagglund said. "I love being able to touch the ball probably the most out of anyone on the floor. I love making the decisions and running the offense, which is something I'm still learning but I'm enjoying."
Husky fans are glad she made the switch. Hagglund led the team to a 27-4 record last year and a 15-3, 6-2 Pac-10 record to start this year.
Her decision to attend the UW went smoothly -- as soon as she saw the campus, she knew Washington was the school for her.
"I came out for a visit and fell in love with the team, the coaches and the school right away," Hagglund said. "There was no better school I could go to in my eyes."
Hagglund was also the only player, in McLaughlin's 18 years of coaching, to commit on the trip out.
"We told her that it would be tough to become great but that it would be the greatest thing you will do," McLaughlin said, "She told me, `This is what I want. I don't need to go home and think about it. This is what I want.'"
And after a season playing here, Hagglund knows that she made the right decision.
"The program itself is top-notch," Hagglund said. "We are on this quest, this journey, to constantly get better."
And while she is tearing up the court this season, McLaughlin still thinks Hagglund has room to improve.
"She has the ability to become a very good blocker and I'd like to see her do that," McLaughlin said. "She's learning how to change her game. She knows what the best setters in the world can do and she's working hard to do those things every day."
Despite her astounding accomplishments on the court, Hagglund still considers herself a normal college student.
"I'm just like everybody else," Hagglund said. "I just have a little less free time."