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Two-Time SEC Libero Of Year Ashley Dusek Has Balance On, Off Cou - LEX18.com | Continuous News and StormTracker Weather

Two-Time SEC Libero Of Year Ashley Dusek Has Balance On, Off Court

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Ashley Dusek (5) may not be able to whistle, but there's not much else she can't do on the volleyball court. (UK Athletics Photo) Ashley Dusek (5) may not be able to whistle, but there's not much else she can't do on the volleyball court. (UK Athletics Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

What can you do going into your senior season when you are the two two-time reigning Southeastern Conference Libero of the Year and a returning All-American?

For Kentucky volleyball senior Ashley Dusek, it’s easy. You just forget about the past.

“I can’t think about last year or the year before. This is a new year. I like to think of myself as an underdog even though I am older than most of them (other players). I like to compete. Nothing is set in stone for anyone. I just think of it as a new year like my freshman year,” Dusek said.

She’s modest and prefers to credit teammates for what she has accomplished rather than brag on herself even though she was second in the SEC last year with 4.78 digs per set and is just the fifth player UK coach Craig Skinner has had reach 1,000 or more career digs.

“When I struggled, they were always there to help me. It’s not like I am perfect all the time. They have my back,” she said of her teammates.

That doesn’t happen often. She’s a feisty competitor on the court who loves winning and playing. She’s good enough to have played with Team USA.

But off the court she describes herself as a “sweet, personable” person who enjoys painting and crafting.

“I guess it is a good balance. On the court you always want to have someone who is determined and competitive. Off the court people like the way I am more relaxed. I think it is good to have both sides to it and hopefully it helps my teammates out,” she said.

That came across with Team USA when she got to meet players she normally plays against. They got to see her personality and they got to know her.

“It was pretty cool to make those connections,” Dusek said. “It also made me a better player. It’s cool the way Team USA does things. Passing for me as a libero is interesting and I can relay that to teammates in a way to make them better.”

Dusek came to Kentucky from East Bernard, Texas, where she was a high school all-American.

“I was kind of hesitant going out of state. My position is really hard to be recruited. Craig (Skinner) showed interest in me. He flew to Texas just to watch my club (team) practice. To have him interested in me rather than having to chase someone was really great for me,” Dusek, who has played in every UK match the last three years, said. “My dad always wanted me at a top 25 school. My mom does, too, but she wanted me closer to home. My sister, brother-in-law and everyone else are very supportive of me. I think they think it is fun to travel and say they are going ‘up state’ somewhere to see me play.”

Her sister briefly played junior college volleyball. She had an aunt play at the University of Houston. Her parents played co-ed volleyball in college. The UK senior started playing at age 5.

“I played multiple sports growing up. I’m from a really small town so you kind of had to play all kinds of sports. When I got to high school I stuck with volleyball and tennis. I played doubles. I did enjoy tennis. I don’t know if I was the best player but it helped me with my quickness as did my other sports,” she said.

She was a softball pitcher — and thought she was good until her father told her she was not the “best” player.

She likes watching all sports now and says volleyball players are especially close to the baseball team.

“They did awesome last year and it was really cool to watch their journey,” Dusek said. “We have a great fan base of our own and hope to get more fans out this year. It’s great to have fans chanting for you and it helps quite a bit.

“Most fans don't know how fast the game is — I guess it is hard to tell. Volleyball can be a hard sport to understand. Some people don’t quite know all the rules. Once people get to know more about the sport, they enjoy it more and understand why it is such a quick game and so much fun for us to win. Volleyball is an awesome game to watch in person. You are not waiting around for points and great players.”

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