Not many people can say they are ranked fourth in the country for anything. Monica Shuk, a Milford, Michigan, sophomore, is one of the few who can. Shuk claims a national ranking for the number of digs. A dig is basically any movement that stops the ball from hitting the ground. Towards the beginning of this season, Shuk was ranked fifteenth for digs. As of Oct. 13, Shuk is now ranked fourth.
“I looked at the notification that said I was fourth, and I just started screaming,” said Shuk. “It’s so awesome. It’s really exciting.”
In addition to her national ranking, Shuk also holds a couple Albion College records. She holds the records for digs in a three-set match (28), digs in a four-set match (40) and for the most overall digs in a season (566).
When talking about her records Shuk said, “Having accomplished that as a freshman, I feel pretty honored.”
Shuk has been played volleyball since she was in middle school. She used to play soccer, but “lost the love of the sport.” Shuk thought volleyball looked fun, so she decided to try it, and she has been playing ever since.
Shuk is a libero, a player who excels on the defensive side of the ball and wears different color jersey than the rest of the team. As a libero, Shuk is usually found in the middle section of players. According to Shuk, the benefit of the libero is that they are a player that can rotate into the game without using a substitution.
According to Head Coach Kristin de St. Aubin in an email, Shuk’s “ability to defend has been a major factor in [the] team’s success this year.”
No matter what the rest of the season brings, Shuk hopes to “keep bringing a positive energy to the team.”
“You have to make sure you still have that positive atmosphere because the better chemistry you have within the team, the better it’s going to be on the court,” said Shuk.
Shuk is described by a teammate, Stephanie Thurner, as a player who brings a lot to the team in the form of confidence and consistency.
Thurner, a senior from Caledonia, Michigan, said in an email that Shuk can be depended upon to do her job and defend as a libero.
“Her confidence is contagious, she is dependable and consistent, she gives one hundred percent to pick up every ball, and leads well by example on the court,” said Thurner.
Shuk said she likely won’t play much volleyball after she graduates college, but she has some goals she would like to accomplish before then.
The team captain, Ami Milligan, recently broke the Albion College record for career assists, and Shuk would like to do the same thing with career digs. She is also looking to break her record for most overall digs in a season.
“I’m going to push myself to, and luckily I do have the hitters to help me,” said Shuk. “We do have a very strong offense, so having them hit to me in practice and make me earn every dig really helps.”
When discussing the team, de St. Aubin said, “We have a great group of competitive girls who both want to be great and see each other become great.”
Photo via Jackie Shuk