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Robert Morris freshman Fisher grabs spotlight

| Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, 10:36 p.m.
Robert Morris freshman Arden Fisher, a Riverview graduate, leads the Colonials in kills this season.

Robert Morris women's volleyball coach Dale Starr believes freshman Arden Fisher might become the Northeast Conference's best player within the next year or two.

Fisher, a 2013 Riverview grad, just needs to figure out how to critique her abilities without stifling her self confidence.

Based on her debut year, she certainly possesses the skills needed to attain her share of conference accolades.

With the regular season complete and the NEC tournament set to begin Saturday, the 5-foot-11 outside hitter leads the team in kills (265), points (310.5) and aces (24), and she's second in digs (329) behind the team's go-to defensive specialist, libero Melissa Bograd.

But Fisher is not without flaws: She has a team-high 169 hitting errors, and in the view of Starr, she sometimes stands in the way of her own talent.

“We talk pretty much on a daily basis about her trusting her instincts and trusting her game and her not forcing it,” Starr said. “Arden is her own harshest critic. There are times where she'll do something really well, and I'll tell her she did something really well, and she doesn't want to hear that. So I think when she matures a little bit and can pat herself on the back, I think that's when you'll see the biggest growth.”

Fisher knew she had the talent to compete for major playing time in the preseason. But she also worried about being perceived as a hotshot by the team's older outside hitters — juniors Erica Robb and Sydney Sizemore.

“It was hard, because I was also trying to get to know the team and be a part of it,” Fisher said. “But I was also fighting for a spot.”

No matter how she carried herself, Fisher arrived at the Moon campus as a prized recruit for Starr, who began pursuing Fisher soon after he arrived at Robert Morris and met her at a Tri-State Elite camp in 2010.

“To be honest, I didn't know if we'd be able to get her here,” Starr said. “I know she had some offers from some bigger schools to go be a libero, but she wanted to play all the way around (the court).”

Fisher's productivity came as a surprise to the freshman. But Starr foresaw this level of success.

“I knew what she could bring to the table,” Starr said. “And I think you'll be shocked if you come back in a year and a half — when she has a full year of weight training and conditioning — to see how good she is.

“She has the highest volleyball IQ of any 18-year-old I've ever coached, and I've been doing this for 20 years. So when her physical catches up with her mental, she's going to be outstanding.”

Fisher described her debut season as an ongoing process of fine-tuning. So much of what worked for her in high school, particularly on offense, no longer suffices.

“There weren't a lot of (adjustments) I'd never heard of before, so it wasn't that bad of a transition,” Fisher said. “It's just in high school, there were a lot more holes in the block. And now, it's like a double brick wall, basically. They're still helping me develop my shots and mix up my swing.”

Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at wwest@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BWest_Trib.

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