Sophomore Dyck thriving in starting role for surging Cats
The circumstances may not be ideal, but sophomore setter Amy Dyck of the Arizona volleyball team will take what she can get.
When junior setter Stephanie Butkus injured her medial collateral ligament Sept. 8, Dyck was forced into the starting setting role for a Wildcat team in the middle of its best start (10-1) in five years.
"I would never wish anything ill upon Stephanie, but I think it's a blessing in disguise because it does give me a chance to be just thrown in there and just dive right in and see what I can do," Dyck said.
Now in her third week as a starter, Dyck said she is finally at ease with her new role.
"Before, when I'd get put in for Steph, I'd go in and my hands would be shaking and I'd be really nervous and really afraid to make a mistake," said the Sandpoint, Idaho, native. "But now, (Arizona head coach) Dave (Rubio) told me a lot of times that he knows that I'm not going to be perfect every single time, and if I make a mistake, oh well. It's a lot more fun when I just play and not think as much."
Dyck saw significant action last season as a freshman, appearing in 23 matches, but made just one start for the Wildcats.
Earlier this season, she considered playing at opposite hitter as well to see more playing time. Dyck said that she is relieved now that she has only one position to worry about, instead of balancing two.
"I'm not really sure what Dave has in mind, but I'd want to keep setting," Dyck said. "I'm taking this opportunity and just going to try and run with it. And, hopefully, I can get good enough to where I can still be a setter (once Butkus returns)."
Though Butkus is sidelined for another month or so, she continues to be a mentor to Dyck.
"I feel like during practice is more of where I can help her out," Butkus said. "We talk about working on location, and (I) give her feedback.
"She just got to go out there and be a leader and she's doing the best that she can," Butkus said. "I think she's improving every day."
Since becoming a starter, Dyck has set new career highs, collecting 56 assists and 13 digs against North Carolina Sept. 17.
She said she's also been able to develop a unique relationship with Rubio.
"Dave calls it 'tough love,'" she said. "That's his term that he uses with me. He's on me all the time. There's never really a practice where he doesn't stop plays repeatedly to tell me the same thing over and over again.
"But at the same time, he is supporting me 100 percent," she said. "It makes it a little bit easier to deal with when he tells me it's just tough love."
To Rubio, that tough love is necessary for someone in Dyck's position. Rubio said he thinks the setter is one of the most crucial positions on the volleyball court, similar to a quarterback in football or a point guard in basketball.
"The heart and soul of your team is really going to be the setting position," he said. "The setter makes so many critical decisions and so many opportunities to better the ball. The great thing about Amy is she's a tough kid and a great athlete."
Senior middle blocker Bre Ladd said Dyck isn't even the same player now that she was two weeks ago.
"She's so much different," Ladd said. "The first week that we were out there, we couldn't connect if you paid. It was so bad.
"I think she's taken the leadership role awesome," Ladd said. "She's talking and she's constantly absorbing everything that Dave's telling her, which is a lot. I definitely give her kudos for being able to handle him, because a lot of players who have had to (play) in that same situation cracked under pressure."