Physical, athletic and powerful.
These three words seem to repeat themselves when describing LSU freshman middle blocker Briana Holman.
“What she brings is power that nobody else in this gym has,” said coach Fran Flory. “She’s one of the hardest hitting freshmen I’ve ever had in my coaching career.”
That is no small distinction considering Flory’s 16-year tenure with the Tigers.
Despite her relatively short time with the team, Holman’s ability to smash the ball has already made an impression on her teammates.
“She is a powerhouse in the front row,” said junior outside hitter Helen Boyle. “I really don’t think she realizes how good she is.”
Holman’s strength above the net is an advantage the team plans to exploit and have already begun building on her natural ability. In fact, Holman is determined to hit even harder as her career progresses to the next level.
“It’s crazy because I’ve never lifted weights so it’s all kind of natural,” said Holman. “Since I’ve been here I’ve started lifting weights and hitting harder.”
Supreme athleticism has always been Holman’s trademark, but the freshman is finding the shift from high school and club-level competition to college has slightly neutralized her ability to overpower opponents.
“It’s different because they hit so much faster,” said Holman. “I used to stand out because I jumped so high but now I’m competing against 20- and 21-year-olds that jump just as high as I do.”
As the athletic quality of her opponents improves, Holman is looking to add a more technically sound and defensive oriented dimension to her game.
Holman said her defense has a long way to go and her teammates have been pushing her in practice to be a better blocker.
Perhaps more impressive than Holman’s physical gifts is her mentality. The freshman has drawn rave reviews in the early part of the season but she refuses to let it go to her head and insists on focusing on the aspects of her game that need to be improved.
“She knows there’s a lot to learn and that this team is most important,” Flory said. “When you have a mix of that athleticism and that attitude the sky’s the limit.”
According to Flory, the limit might be a spot among the greatest players to ever come through the LSU volleyball program.
Holman plans to shatter these expectations like she does to volleyballs hanging above the net.
“I’m not the type to crack under pressure,” said Holman. “If anything it makes me better.”