So here’s the skinny; Bethune-Cookman has a record setting athlete who can jump out the gym. At 5’6”, which is roughly 3 inches shorter than the diminutive three time NBA Dunk Champion Nate Robinson, this athlete can touch a basketball rim.
That’s pretty impressive right? Would you be more impressed if you knew that this athlete was a she?
Meet Krysta Gardner. Gardner is a 1st team All-MEAC volleyball performer who set a BCU single season record last season with 479 kills. The senior outside hitter from Ashburn, Virginia needs just 170 kills this season to top the 1,000 kill mark in her career; she needs 230 kills to become BCU’s all-time kills leader.
But Gardner is not the only standout performer on BCU’s volleyball squad. Janeen Davis, who is also a senior and outside hitter, registered 450 kills last season and would currently hold the single season record if not for her teammate. Davis needs 325 kills this year to reach the 1,000 kills mark for her career.
Gardner and Davis are the cornerstones of Coach Isaac Raphael’s rapidly improving volleyball program. They were the only teammates named to the MEAC’s All-Tournament squad last season. Despite their relative lack of height by volleyball standards, Gardner (5’6 ½) and Davis (5’8”) are unquestionably two of the better outside hitters in the conference.
“We definitely have a disadvantage because of our height but we make up for it with our verticals (leap)” Janeen Davis said.
Krysta Gardner went on to state: “I don’t really think about my height much because I jump relatively high. But like they always say, it’s not how tall you are, it’s how big you play”.
…and play big they do.
Coach Raphael was quick to heap praise on the tandem. “Our strongest area (as a team) is that we have 2 of the best outside hitters in the conference in Jeanne and Krysta. One was first team All-MEAC last season (Gardner), one was second team All-MEAC (Davis)”. “Krysta is one of the best outside hitters in the country at her size. She was 9th in the nation in aces and had nearly 500 kills last season.”
Coach Raphael went on to state: “not only are they great players, they are great individuals. They are very humble young ladies. I think they accept their roles as leaders (on this team) humbly and they are ready for the challenge of another great season”.
Ready to Compete
Gardner, Davis and junior defensive specialist, Jennifer Jimenez make up the core group around which Coach Raphael could recruit and address the issues that separated his squad from the top teams in the conference last season. “We made a concerted effort to add more height. We have several players over 6 feet tall this year and we’re much further along fundamentally than we were at this point last season”.
“Jennifer Jimenez (who set a school record with 395 digs last season) helps us. Without her passing, we wouldn’t be where we are”.
“We needed better defense and better ability to block at the net which I think we have this year. The other thing we need to compete (with the top teams in this conference) is confidence. We’re starting to believe that we are a good program”.
“We have athletes. They may need some more training, but they’re workhorses. With some tweaking here and there, we’ll be right there with the top teams in this conference”.
Coach Raphael expects freshmen Delicia Pierre, Phylecia Armstrong, and Monica Lowe to step in and contribute right away. Gardner and Davis also welcome the new additions. “Last year, Jeanne and I hit most of the balls. With this new team we have a lot more options (offensively) so I’m looking forward to that” Krysta Gardner stated.
Janeen Davis replied: “we have the players, we have the heart; I think we’re going to surprise some people this year. I expect to win the MEAC”.
Wildcat fans can catch their first glimpse at the 2012 edition of the BCU volleyball team when they host their annual Maroon and Gold game this Sunday, August 19th at 1:00 in Moore Gymnasium.