New school, new position for Minnesota native

Jadyn+Garrison+gets+ready+to+serve+the+ball+in+Marquettes+3-2+win+over+DePaul+Oct.+20.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Marquette+Athletics.%29

Jadyn Garrison gets ready to serve the ball in Marquette’s 3-2 win over DePaul Oct. 20. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Being a first-year college athlete can be challenging, between having to manage classes while also trying to play a sport at a high level.

For first-year defensive specialist Jadyn Garrison, there was another challenge she dealt with when coming to Marquette; actually learning to be a defensive specialist. For most of her high school career, Garrison was an outside hitter.

Garrison went to East Ridge High School in Woodbury, Minnesota, which stands just 30 minutes outside of downtown Minneapolis.

While there, Garrison led the Raptors to a conference title and was named as an honorable mention twice to the All-Conference team. Garrison also played for Kokoro Volleyball on the club side and and earned 2018 AAU All-American Team in 2018.

While a majority of Garrison’s time was spent as an outside hitter, she said she did have some experience in high school that helped prepare her for this new role.

“I was a six rotation outside hitter in high school and then my sophomore year I actually had to play libero,” Garrison said. “So that helped me prepare a little bit, but I think mostly just being a six rotation outside hitter, being able to play defense and hit kind of prepared me for this too.”

Garrison said despite some frustrating moments in switching positions, the transition as a whole has gone well.

“At first it’s always a little frustrating, changing positions, but I was up for the challenge,” Garrison said. “I think defense is super fun and I also get to learn from two amazing liberos (Katie Schoessow and Carly Skrabak).”

Garrison said part of the reason defense has been fun for her is that she is now able to be on the other side of where she used to play.

“Getting a save or setting a hitter up, I was always on the other side so I would be the one getting kills or getting blocks, but it’s kind of fun to have a different perspective,” Garrison said. “I love pursuing balls, diving, getting pancakes (a one-handed diving dig), everything about it is super fun.”

Outside of the adjustments on the court, Garrison said she had to adjust to being back in the classroom after spending most of last year in virtual learning at her high school due to COVID-19.

“Just getting back into school,” Garrison said. “During COVID-19, I was online for probably a year and a half, so just that transition and switch has been a little hard to get back into, but it’s getting better.”

While Garrison was off to a slow start in her career on the court in nonconference play, only playing eight total sets and only notching one dig.

Conference play has been a different story for Garrison, as she has played 23 sets in all ten conference games and has nine digs.

While the stats haven’t shown it yet, head coach Ryan Theis believes the switch has gone well for Garrison saying she is one of the team’s best athletes.

Theis said it was Garrison’s athletic ability that first drew him to her in 2018 on the recruiting trail.

“We actually started recruiting her after we lost in the Sweet 16 to Illinois (in 2018). I thought it was pretty distinct that their (Illinois’) back court defense was significantly more athletic than ours at the time, and I went to Megan (Keck) and said ‘I want us to get more athletic in the back row,’ and Megan said within a month that she thought Jadyn was the perfect recruit to go after,” Theis said.

Theis said another reason why Garrison’s switch has worked is because of Garrison’s mentality toward the change in order to play at the highest level.

“Jadyn will do whatever you ask of her, which is one of the reasons she’s great. When she started wanting to play college volleyball, she had options: she could play at a lower level and be an outside hitter, or she could try and play high level volleyball and be a DS (defensive specialist) or libero,” Theis said. “The level of volleyball changed her position to something she could be really good at this level.”

Though the switch has gone well up to this point, both Theis and Garrison know there will be continued improvement as the season continues to move along.

“Some goals that I have for the end of the season is to be more consistent all around, like serve-receive and defense, and just continue to be consistent off of the bench and hopefully score a few points every time I can get in,” Garrison said.

This story was written by Jackson Gross. He can be reached at jackson.gross@marquette.edu or on Twitter @JacksonGrossMU.