Summer work pays off for RMU volleyball's Fisher
Arden Fisher put her time at the beach this summer to good use.
In years past, Fisher played sand volleyball against her parents and some of their friends for fun. This summer, she took it to the next level, competing in a league with her older sister Hannah.
Her work already is paying dividends. Fisher, a junior at Robert Morris, is leading the Colonials (5-2) in kills for the third consecutive season, but she's also converting at a higher rate than her first two seasons.
“She's been a go-to player for us for two years, but I think she's handling it better,” Robert Morris coach Dale Starr said. “I think her maturity level is better at this point, and she's handling it better. I think she's embraced that role, whereas I'm not sure as a freshman or sophomore she was quite ready to. I think the maturity, her mental focus, her ability to bounce back from bad shots, bad games, bad matches is night and day from last year to this year.”
Fisher said she saw the court differently during sand volleyball matches, which consist of two players on each side, and some of what she learned still applies in college matches — even with an additional four players to hit against.
The Riverview graduate has 99 kills through seven matches, including back-to-back 20-kill performances during the Robert Morris Invitational — the first time in her RMU career she had accomplished that.
“I guess (sand volleyball) helped my volleyball IQ and picking out shots,” Fisher said. “I learned how to look at the other side of the court before making a swing and finding the open spots defensively.
“I've been trying to mix up my shots. If I go up for a shot, I'll try to think ahead of what the other team might be doing. If they're moving up on my position, then I'll send it deep. Or I'll look and see if there's an open spot on the floor.”
The summer was about more than sand volleyball for Fisher. She also took a trip with other college volleyball players to Costa Rica, where they played against the national team and some club teams.
“It was awesome getting to see the culture over there and getting to play with a whole new group of people,” Fisher said. “(Volleyball is) pretty much the same. I think they have more of a defensive mindset.”
Fisher spent most of the rest of the time on campus working with the Colonials' strength and conditioning coaches. Starr said she was stronger, faster and more conditioned.
With four freshman starters and just one senior on the roster, Fisher and fellow juniors Leah Dunivan and April Krivoniak are taking on more of a leadership role for Robert Morris.
“Arden is more of a lead-by-example type of personality, and she's come in and worked hard every day and really proven to the young kids how they need to work, and how they need to go about their business and what they need to do to be successful on the floor,” Starr said.
“I think a lot of them are taking their cues from her. They all look up to her as a leader on the floor, and she's been a pretty good calming influence on the floor.”
Fisher said she's hoping to create a tight-knit bond among her teammates as the Colonials attempt to win their first Northeast Conference championship since 2003. They fell in the conference title match last season.
“Every practice, we're preparing for the NCAA Tournament,” Fisher said. “It's already our top goal.”