Big 12 Campus Correspondent
What do volleyball and a drum line have in common? According to Hannah Allison, it's rhythm. The Texas freshman was a drummer in her high school's band and has been able to apply that experience to volleyball.
"I personally think there [are similarities between volleyball and drumline] because there is so much rhythm in volleyball," Allison said. "Between passing and setting and hitting there is a rhythm and when you get in a rhythm it's smooth and it's easy and it's not hectic when your play is in rhythm. You can feel that, you can tell when it's in rhythm or when it's kind of messed up."
As a setter, rhythm is important for Allison. She orchestrates the team's offense, helps make decisions on play calls and distribution, and manages the tempo of the game.
In volleyball, the setter also is in a leadership position. That can be intimidating for a freshman.
"It's hard to come in and start bossing people around," Allison said.
To help with her transition from high school to college, Allison enrolled for the spring semester earlier this year.
"It's similar to a quarterback coming early," said Allison, alluding to a common practice in football. "It's harder for a new quarterback to just step in and play. It's similar for a setter, like the quarterback needs to understand the system and have an idea about what's going on all the time."
Though Allison, a two-time Gatorade Arkansas Volleyball Player of the Year, knew it was a necessary move, it was not an easy decision.
"It took me a while to decide what I wanted to do," Allison said. "I made a lot of pros and cons lists. What would be the advantages of leaving versus what would I miss out on and if that would really affect me or not in my last semester of high school, but I think I was ready to leave. There were so many benefits of coming early that it was going to be worth it."
Her teammates agree. The early start helped Allison adjust to the style Texas plays, but it also helped her bond with her new teammates.
"I think her coming in early and getting some experience was really good for her," senior Juliann Faucette said. "Obviously, her being the starting setter for us is a big role as a freshman. That spring semester really did help her.
"I saw her grow a lot personality wise and physically, which is really cool. She's actually become one of my closest friends so that's been really cool to see her grow through the spring."
Middle Blocker Rachael Adams added, "At the beginning of the spring, it was really shaky, but she's grown so much throughout the season. I've developed a strong relationship with her, and I kind of know what to say to her and she kind of knows what to say to me, so that's easy with our communication."
The development of relationships and chemistry is key part of any sport. Knowing a teammate's personality and how they perform at their best and their worst can make or break a team. However, it's a process that takes time.
"You can't press that when you come in the fall because you're busy with the season and in preseason, and it's hard to build relationships," Allison said. "The spring is more laid back and you get that quality time with your teammates that you can build on and that transfers to so many things on court."
In addition to building relationships with teammates, Allison was able to study the game on the collegiate level this spring.
"The biggest difference is the speed of the game and how much you're really taking in," Allison said. "You're analyzing everything the other team is doing where before, you just played. There are so many thought processes that go into playing at the collegiate level and in the Big 12.
"That was something that took the most adjustment, just learning those things. Spring helped me build a foundation before the craziness of the fall, where it's more about the performance than the technical skill."
Reading the game is what the Arkansas native cites as her biggest improvement, and it is something she continues to work on, but when asked what the best part of being at Texas was, it was not the improvement of her skills.
"[The best part has been] getting to know my teammates and growing to love them, and the closeness that we have I didn't really expect coming into it," Allison said. "I didn't expect how close this team would be. I've never been closer to my teammates on any team I've been on in my life."