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Digging in for a new season

Photo by Jim Pierce.

Sophomore volleyball player Janelle Tucker inspires confidence in her teammates through positive reinforcement—both on and off the court.

“I have a ‘you got it next time’ attitude,” says Tucker, who tries to ensure her teammates don’t get down on themselves when they make a mistake. “I want to make sure everyone is comfortable and in a zone where we can all play together.”

The new pack of Huskies has reason to believe in the 5-foot 9-inch outside hitter. Last year, Tucker was one of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) conference’s Rookies of the Year. In 30 matches, she ranked second on the team in kills (348), digs (320) and service aces (24), including a career-high 22 kills and 23 digs in last season’s conference championship loss.

Tucker—who says team success takes precedence over individual statistics—thinks this year’s squad has the talent to reach the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament.

She relishes the opportunity to compete in such high-stakes matches. “The nervousness gets me really excited, and I play with more emotion and energy,” she says. “I get really pumped up with every point.”

Tucker’s competitive nature is in her genes. The Encino, Calif., native grew up in a family of athletes.

Her dad, for example, played high-school hockey; her mom ran track. Her older brother played football for Shippensburg University, in Pennsylvania. Her younger sister plans to follow in big sis’s footsteps and join a collegiate volleyball team next year.

After Tucker graduates in 2015, the psychology major would like to play professional volleyball in Spain or Greece for a couple of years, then become a sports psychologist or a volleyball coach.

This summer, Tucker mentored the Northeastern club’s three incoming freshmen and one transfer student. She also coached the 16-year-old Southern California Volleyball Club team.

“Coaching would be really fun,” Tucker says. “I’m always around volleyball. It’s definitely a huge part of my life.”