Skrabak fulfilling goal set last season with new role

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Carly Skrabak serves the ball in Marquette’s 3-1 win over UConn Oct.1 at the Al McGuire Center. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Redshirt sophomore defensive specialist Carly Skrabak started this season wearing the same color jersey as all her teammates.

But after eight games, she started wearing a different color: the starting libero jersey.

“(Skrabak) had been playing better and better throughout her time here,” Marquette head coach Ryan Theis said. “As she continued to improve her statistics and continued to improve and she expanded on her game we wanted to get her on the court a little more.”

Since Skrabak’s move to libero Sept. 17 against the University of Texas San Antonio, her statistics have also seen a substantial jump. Skrabak went from averaging 1.8 digs per set to 4.35 digs per set, as of Oct. 16.

Skrabak told the Marquette Wire last September that the starting libero spot was a goal she had set for herself.

“Someday I hope to be the starting libero, help the team towards some conference championships in the next few years, as well as see how far we can get in some NCAA Tournaments,” Skrabak said in September.

Now, over a year later, Skrabak has been able to reflect on those goals while staying in the moment.

“I think about all my goals I had and it’s kind of crazy just because now I’m living in it,” Skrabak said. “We’ve started off really strong, especially in conference and then even in preseason. Its been really awesome … it’s been quite the journey so far.”

Yet the switch to starting libero wasn’t the only change Skrabak made this season.

I also changed my serve,” Skrabak said. “I used to do a jump float. But now I do something that we call a deep bomb where I stand really far back and stand serve.”

For example, when Skrabak serves in the Al McGuire Center she serves just in front of the student section. Skrabak said though the ball might not come in fast from this, it might be difficult for an opponent to receive.

“It’s really challenging to pass because there’s so much time for it to float and move in the air that it’s just really really hard to pass,” Skrabak said.

Through 19 matches this season Skrabak has had 10 service aces whereas last season she only had three on the year.

Serving is just one aspect of the game and for defensive specialists like Skrabak, it’s on the receiving end where she wanted to get better.

“My serve-receive definitely had to become more consistent,” Skrabak said.

Over the offseason, Skrabak was able to work on her game and after seeing her play last season first-year Jadyn Garrison has noticed a growth in Skrabak’s consistency and a growth in her confidence as well.

“She’s one of the most consistent players we have on our team,” Garrison said. “I think that branches off from her just being more confident.”

Skrabak said this confidence has come from hard work and trust from the coaching staff.

“One of the biggest things that came from all those changes is just my confidence,” Skrabak said. “The fact that they (the coaching staff) know that they can put me in and I’ll do my job just gives me a lot of confidence because they believe in me too.”

Skrabak’s confidence, trust from her coaching staff and staying consistent may be the reason she’s rarely been off the court.

Last season, out of the 51 total sets Marquette played, Skrabak played in all but two, and this season, she’s been on the court for every set of every match.

For those who watch the games in the Al McGuire Center or from afar, Skrabak may be seen as just a libero and defensive specialist, but for Garrison, Skrabak is seen as more than that: She’s an older sister.

“She just has helped me become more comfortable, gives me tips but also gives me positive feedback,” Garrison said. “She always just compliments me, I compliment her and we’ve kind of built a good bond because we pick each other up when we’re down or if we make mistakes.”

Garrison said her bond with Skrabak has also allowed her to learn what it takes to be a successful libero in Marquette’s system.

“I look up to her a lot because I want to be as consistent as her,” Garrison said. “She doesn’t necessarily play for herself, she plays for others on the team and I think that’s what makes her a special libero.”

Going forward in Skrabak’s career at Marquette, Theis has some goals and things he’d like to see from his libero.

“I’d love to see her have some breakout performances in terms of digs per game or a defensive player of the week or an all conference libero or a libero of the year,” Theis said. “I’d love to see her grow towards some of that.”

When Skrabak decides to hang it up, and after she gets her last dig, assist or ace, Theis has faith that she’ll be successful in real life.

She’s got great management skills, time management and she’s gonna be one of those people like a lot of players on our team that are awfully good at real life when they finish college,” Theis said.

This article was written by Ben Schultz. He can be reached at benjamin.a.schultz@marquette.edu or on Twitter @benschultz52.