Hope Werch no different after Freshman of the Year honors


Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Hope Werch won BIG EAST Freshman of the Year in 2017 and is playing a prominent role in the 2018 offense.

Three years ago, the odds that sophomore outside hitter Hope Werch would attend Marquette University were not high.

“We recruited her for a long time,” Marquette head coach Ryan Theis said. “We thought she wasn’t going to say yes, so I told her to hurry up and make a decision or I was going to move on without her. … Hilariously enough, that got her to make a decision.”

As the reigning BIG EAST Freshman of the Year, the outside hitter has played a vital role in the team’s success.

“Based on our personnel, her versatility gets everybody in the position to do what they’re best at,” Theis said. “Maybe not her, maybe she’s sacrificing some of the things she’s best at, but she makes everyone better around her.”

In her high school and club career, Werch played mainly left hitter but was forced to move when she came to the Golden Eagles to play alongside junior Allie Barber. Since Werch is flexible as far as court position goes, Barber continues to line up at the right pin and hit left.

However, Barber is not the only one who benefits from the relationship. As the younger of the two, Werch gets the opportunity to learn from a more experienced player.

“There is so much to learn from Allie Barber. She is awesome,” Werch said. “She’s a great teammate, great friend (and) there’s just a lot to learn from her.”

Barber, the reigning BIG EAST Player of the Year, has benefited from Werch’s contributions on the court. The two make a formidable duo and make each other better.

The Golden Eagles’ talent doesn’t end at the outside hitter position, however. With redshirt senior Jenna Rosenthal at middle blocker, junior Lauren Speckman at the setter spot and sophomore Martha Konovodoff as the defensive specialist, the squad lines up with six All-American-caliber players.

Just because this is a skilled team, does not mean they aren’t workhorses as well.

“Everybody on our team puts 100 percent effort in every day,” Werch said. “It’s great to have people around you that want the same thing as you do, and it just creates a really great atmosphere in our gym, practices and playing.”

And despite being touted as the BIG EAST’s top freshman last season, Werch has not let the accolade get to her head.

“I don’t think there’s any extra pressure,” Werch said. “I think if anything I’m the one putting pressure on myself. But I think I just want to play well for the team and focus on our team goals. Everything’s about the team.”

Now, even with the Golden Eagles nationally ranked and the team’s role as the preseason BIG EAST favorite, Werch said her team is more prepared than ever before.

“It definitely makes us more hungry because we see that we can do it,” Werch said. “We just have to do what we need to do to get it done. I think the sky’s the limit for us.”