COLUMBIA — Columbia College volleyball's Lydie van Deursen wanted to set.
She used to play libero, but teams generally serve away from those specialized defensive players, and van Deursen wanted to contribute more during rallies.
If Columbia volleyball wins its last three American Midwest Conference games, it will top the regular season conference standings and earn a bid to the national championship play-ins. A conference tournament win would also secure a bid. The next home game pits the Cougars against the Lyon College Scots on Friday, Nov. 8, at 7 p.m.
"You get the ball every time," she said, of the setter position.
She left the Netherlands and came to Redlands Community College in Oklahoma in 2012 to play volleyball. There were chances to play back home, but she wanted the American combination of school and sports, and she eventually wants to play professionally.
The junior grew up playing outside hitter, and then played two years of libero in the Netherlands before relocating and leading Redlands to the national championship.
Columbia volleyball coach Melinda Wrye-Washington talked to other junior college coaches to find out about van Deursen, and several themes emerged. Van Deursen is energetic. And hard on herself. And wants to win. And has stellar grades.
Wrye-Washington said it's this "total package" that attracted her to van Deursen.
"Her angles of the court are very good," Wrye-Washington said. "And that's not something you can teach, necessarily."
Wrye-Washington saw van Deursen play live for the first time when she arrived in Columbia.
"I liked her work ethic right away. She's like, 'When do we start?'" Wrye-Washington said.
It's a trait they share.
"We're both pretty aggressive and like to be on task and get things done," Wrye-Washington said. "And we like to win. She hates to lose, and I think I do too."
"I hate it," van Deursen said.
Wrye-Washington jokes that the two have another connection.
"I was excited to have a Dutch player ... My grandpa, Jacob Bouma, came in from the Netherlands," Wrye-Washington said.
Van Deursen was not all that impressed.
"But you don't know any Dutch, so..." van Deursen said.
"I thought it was cool. She didn't think it was cool," Wrye-Washington said. "We're cousins. I know it."
Van Deursen mentioned another Dutch student at Columbia College.
"She's probably my cousin too," Wrye-Washington said.
There's also a Dutch player at rival University of Texas at Brownville, a team that beat Columbia College 3-0 earlier this month.
Wrye-Washington joked that the Ocelots' Dutch player is not part of their family.
"I'm pretty sure we're not related," Wrye-Washington said.
Columbia College defeated Benedictine University at Springfield 3-0 (25-12, 25-15, 25-23) on Tuesday night for its sixth straight American Midwest Conference win. The team next plays at Hannibal-LaGrange University at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.
Supervising editor is Nina Pantic.