Iowa volleyball player Chanté Thompson graduates from bench


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Junior middle blocker Chanté Thompson suffered through a pair of nagging knee injuries last season, but the volleyball player has made her way into the starting lineup in 2012.

Her insertion into the Hawkeye lineup came after an off-season in which she dedicated herself to training and ignoring the knee injuries that bothered her through her first two seasons.

“I was focused more during training [camp] this past spring and summer,” the Hurst, Texas, native said. “I wanted to control my energy better, be more consistent, and not worry about my [past] knee injuries. I’ve had some nagging knee problems, and knees are very important. My position involves a lot of jumping.”

So far this season, Thompson has performed well and has been one of the more consistent Hawkeyes on the team. Her focus during practice has translated to the court — she has already topped her previous career high of 10 kills in a match five times this season. Her play has also helped Iowa to a 7-3 start.

“This year, she’s playing like she has a sense of urgency as a junior,” head coach Sharon Dingman said. “She competes hard every day, and that’s the area we’ve been missing from her the past few years … She’s coming into her own and taking [volleyball] seriously now, and it’s good for our team and for her.”

Thompson was mostly a bench player last year, appearing in 25 matches while starting only 11 in the team’s 33-game season. But this year, with the graduation of star blocker Mallory Husz, Thompson was expected to come into the season as one of the starting middle blockers.

“Last year, she still had some people in front of her at [middle blocker], so she kept fighting and got more playing time,” junior setter Nikki Dailey said. “This year, she was expected to be [on the floor] every single [set], and she’s lived up to that expectation.”

Thompson and Dailey communicate particularly well on the court together. Dailey trusts her middle blockers to score, and Thompson is always prepared for a ball to come her way.

“Nikki and I have had a connection since freshman year. She knows when to set for me and to set for the middles,” Thompson said. “She has a feel for [setting the ball], and whenever she needs to set it to her middles, she can.”

When it comes time to pass, Dailey has no problem setting it up for her friend.

“If you really look at our offense, the middles have been carrying a lot of weight on their backs,” Dailey said. “I know when I set to [Thompson], it’s either going to be a kill or [a ball] in play. I rarely think of her getting an error.”

Thompson is third on the team in kills and points. She has recorded 97 kills, whichhave helped account for her 117.5 points thus far. And her .296 hitting percentage is the highest on the team of players with more than 50 kills.

The 6-3 blocker’s effort hasn’t been in question this season, and she’s proven that by her energy on the court.

“My mindset is different this year,” Thompson said. “I’m more involved. My role [on the team] is to work hard and now that I’m healthy I can go after things. I can be more aggressive when I play.”

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