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Bedell has learned much from volleyball's lone senior

BY IAN MARTIN | NOVEMBER 19, 2010 7:20 AM

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For a team with four freshmen, three sophomores, and four juniors, it doesn't appear that the Iowa volleyball team has had any trouble with class cliques on and off the court.

The team's only senior Becky Walters said there has been absolutely no "age-gap" on the team, and everyone gets along together regardless of age, experience, or playing time. This means even the team's only senior has been hanging out with freshmen, and she's bonded with one in particular: Rachael Bedell.

Walters and Bedell have similar games. Both are more than 6-feet tall, and they use that height to their advantage in their power game. But beyond that, the two have found a lot to talk about off the court and have become good friends, one 22, and one 18.

"I think our personalities are really similar," Walters said. "She brings a lot of energy and a lot of talk and a lot of noise to the court."

Energy is certainly a trait players would all use to describe Walters, too.

Right now, Walters is the undeniable face of Iowa volleyball. Next year, Megan Eskew and Mallory Husz will probably share the spotlight. But come 2013, when Bedell and her fellow freshmen will be seniors, there's little doubt which player will emerge as the team's leader.

"[Rachael] is loud in a good way," head coach Sharon Dingman said. "That's the kind of energy she brings to floor … I think [she and Becky] look at each other and say, 'OK, one of us needs to get everybody going here.' "

Much of what Bedell has learned this year has been from Walters, and even during practices that Walters sat out, the senior told Bedell to keep the energy up at practice. That's paid off in getting the freshman — who holds herself to very high standards — to calm down in big situations.

"Especially when we're away, the crowds are insane, so we have to keep our momentum up," Bedell said. "And I think a lot of that comes from communication and excitement after every single play."

The other thing that Bedell has done to keep herself focused during matches is a unique tradition she says began in her junior year of high school. Fans may have noticed writing on her left wrist, along with a black triangle.

The triangle, she explained, just reminds her of home in Plano, Texas, and her friends from there. The word has evolved from "breathe" at the beginning of the year to now read "ignite."

And even though her teammates made fun of her after she accidentally wrote "breath" instead of "breathe" before the team's first match, others now encourage it, as evidenced by her teammate Husz suggesting the most recent wrist word.

Certainly, the team has to be happy with the freshman's effort this season; she has accumulated 163 kills through 87 sets — fourth highest on the team. But even beyond her stats, it will be her energy, which she partially learned from a certain person, that may make her the face of Iowa volleyball in the coming years.

"Becky brings that [energy]," Bedell said. "And I try to mimic that from her."


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