Bladow ready for return to starting lineup

first_imgBRYAN FAUST/Herald photoDuring her freshman year, Amy Bladow played in 109 of the Wisconsin women’s volleyball team’s 123 games. The last two years, however, she has only played in 82 of Wisconsin’s 230. Now as a senior, Bladow is ready to get back on the court full time, become a team leader and help the Badgers achieve their goals of winning the Big Ten and making it to the Final Four.”I think as a senior on the team, I’m definitely going to have to step up into a leadership role this year,” Bladow said. “With Aubrey Meierotto and Shelia Shaw leaving last year, those are some big shoes to fill. I think that Katie Lorenzen, Maria Carlini and myself are all three going to have to step up this year and really try to take the leadership role on this team.”However, for Bladow, volleyball wasn’t always a passion of hers.”I tried out because my dad made me in the seventh grade,” she said. “I was a basketball player for the a long time, and he was like, ‘I think you should try it,’ and he made me do it. And I cried for two whole days straight because I didn’t want to do it, but I ended up going, and I made the team.”From there on, Bladow went on to play high school and club volleyball. When it came time to choose a school to attend to play volleyball and get an education, she knew right away Wisconsin was the place she wanted to come.”I went on a lot of visits to a lot of different schools, and everyone kept telling me while I was visiting, ‘When you go somewhere you will know; you will just get that feeling on the inside, like that’s where you are supposed to be,'” she said. “As soon as I took a tour of Wisconsin and met with the coaches and toured the facilities and everything, it just clicked. I was like, ‘This is where I’m supposed to be. This feels like home.'”During her freshman year in Madison, Bladow teamed with former Badger and two-time all-Big Ten player Shelia Shaw in the middle, but before the beginning of her sophomore year, Taylor Reineke came in and beat Bladow out of her spot, forcing her to more of a reserve role and limiting her playing time.”In my sophomore year, Taylor Reineke came in, and [Reineke] is super tall and super athletic, and she’s a great volleyball player,” Bladow said. “She just beat me out for my spot in the middle, and she deserved it. [Reineke’s] an awesome volleyball player. She was just really strong, really consistent and held her own really well even as a freshman; she was a stud. She came in and earned that spot and got to play a head of me, and I was fine.”Even though Reineke beat her out of the starting middle spot, Bladow has used the last two years to become a better player.”I’ve learned a lot from Taylor; just as a volleyball player, she has taught me a ton, especially about blocking in the middle,” she said. “In practice, I’m always asking Taylor what I am doing wrong. ‘Why am I not blocking that ball, I feel like I’m doing something wrong,’ and she helps and she corrects me.”And head coach Pete Waite sees the time spent on the bench the last two years has helped her improve her game.”She has always brought a lot of energy, and that is one thing she always did, even from the bench,” Waite said. “She was really pushing the team on and off the court. What I think she learned from being on the sidelines is how hard she has to work in practice to become more disciplined as a player to raise her level of her game.”Waite also sees a big difference in her game and the way she worked to become better from last year to the spring season.”There were times in her game in the past where she wasn’t working as hard as she could,” Waite said. “I think she wasn’t correcting things and raising the level of her game as fast as she could. She really has had a goal this spring to give it everything she had, and we’ve all seen the results of that.”All of Bladow’s hard work over the past three years has helped her get closer to getting back in the starting lineup.”We are still determining [the starting lineup],” Waite said. “I think she has become much more of a leader because she has worked very hard on all of her skills. She has become much more disciplined in everything she does, and we’re excited about it, and we can tell she is, too.”I think as a senior coming into the season, she has shown the ability to take charge out there, and she is a very powerful athlete, so those are all great things that we want in the lineup.”One thing is for certain, whether Bladow makes it back in the starting lineup, she will be the team’s emotional leader next year just like she has been in years past.”I think my role is kind of like the spark plug,” Bladow said. “I think I just bring a lot of energy and a lot fire to the team. I know that I’m really loud. I love to cheer for everyone, and I think that will be one of my biggest roles on the team, to just keep us pumped up and motivated all the time. Especially in practice sometimes you don’t always want to do every single drill because it is toward the end of the day and it might get monotonous or something.” Just like any senior, Bladow wants to end her volleyball career at Wisconsin by going out on top.”One of my personal goals is to go out with a bang,” Bladow said. “I think it says a lot the last two years we lost to the national champs. We really, really would like to make it to the Final Four this year. I think that is a huge goal for us, and for me personally. As a senior, you always want to go out on top.”We are always looking to finish first in the Big Ten, too. There are such great teams in the Big Ten in Penn State, Minnesota and Michigan. Everybody’s always vying for that first-place spot. I think that just with the talent that we have this year, it is a definite possibility for us. We could actually make it happen. A really great way to go out would be to win the Big Ten and make it to the Final Four.”During the spring season, Bladow has been playing on the right side, besides playing her normal position in the middle. This has helped improve her chances of being in the starting lineup.”The fact that she was able to play both makes her more versatile and more valuable to us,” Waite said.Regardless of where she ends up playing this year, Bladow isn’t really concerned, just as long as she is on the court.”I feel pretty comfortable playing both positions,” Bladow said. “I just want to play. If [Waite] wants me to set, I’ll be like, ‘Yeah, put me in coach.'”last_img read more