CLEMSON, SC – Clemson junior Mo Simmons has had a fine career as a Tiger. She has been among the team leaders in both kills and digs in both of her first two seasons in the program.
But Simmons is not satisfied with simply having a good career. She wants more.
So over the summer, the Buford, GA native became a gym rat in an effort to start the 2012 season already performing at a higher level.
She lifted weights. She did speed and agility drills. She perfected her strengths and shored up her weaknesses. She even participated in impromptu matches to implement the things she was learning.
In short, Mo Simmons prepared.
“I came in the gym almost every day,” she said. “I worked on my jump serve, which I haven’t shown yet. I played with some guys and got some reps in. I was just actively doing it every day.”
So far, the Tiger outside hitter has seen her practice pay dividends as her team has begun the season on a long winning streak. The third-year starter is the team leader in kills through the first six matches, including a career-high-tying 16 kills in Friday night’s victory over Charlotte. In addition, Simmons was named the Most Valuable Player of the Clemson Classic on Saturday, after recording 3.80 kills per set and a 3.00 digs per set average in the Tigers’ three wins in the tournament.
But Simmons has focused on versatility, and it shows. She is tied for the team lead in blocks, third in digs, and second in overall scoring, while also approaching 40 percent as an attacker.
Perhaps the most telling transformation in Simmons’ game is her ability to produce in spite of self-described lackluster play. Friday’s match was exhibit A of this new reality for the former two-sport star.
“I didn’t feel like I was playing my ‘A’ game,” Simmons said. “But hey, whatever works for the team works for me.”
The Tiger volleyball team oozes confidence this season. This self-belief comes from a high level of comfort that exists among the ranks due to the quantity of veterans on the roster. No matter the situation, Simmons knows her teammates are ready because chances are they have seen it before.
“In practice, we do a lot of situations,” she said. “We’ll have teams on the court and we’ll be down five points and have to work our way back up. We’ve done it in practice, so we’ve shown that we can do it during games.”
Head Coach Jolene Hoover knows about Simmons’ progress. The long-time coach has monitored Simmons throughout the offseason, and she is grateful to know one of her team leaders is committed to being dialed in this early in the schedule, especially given the rigors of the first few weekends of tournaments.
“At the beginning of the season, you’re coming off of two-a-day practices, so you hope that your team is in the best shape possible to deal with it,” Hoover said. “But the first three or four weekends in the nonconference schedule are tournament-style. I don’t know why we do that to ourselves, but we do. It really tests your endurance.”
No one is better prepared to face a test of endurance than Simmons. Now setting career marks with subpar (by her standards) performances, imagine the potential once the confident junior settles into the season.
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