GB’s Beck earns spot on Under Armour Watch List

Great Bend senior Baylee Beck, already the school’s career dig leader, was recently one of just 12 Kansas players to make the Under Armour Watch List of top volleyball players in the nation.                                                                       (photo by Mike Courson)

Beck one of just 12 Kansas players to make the list

By Mike Courson

Setting a big school record before your junior year is over is likely to turn a few heads. Great Bend senior Baylee Beck set the school record for career digs on the volleyball court last season. Just as her fourth and final year is ramping up, Beck was one of 12 Kansas athletes to make the Under Armour Watch List. Players on the list will be given All-American considerations later in the season.

“I’m actually very surprised but I’m also really honored,” Beck said. “I think it’s really cool. I’ve never really had anything like this happen before.”

Beck is a two-sport varsity athlete at Great Bend High School. She’ll enter her third varsity softball season this spring, but her true love has been volleyball. She began playing club ball for an Ellinwood team in the fourth grade and fell in love.

“The very first day I just loved it,” she said. “From the beginning I knew I wanted to play it as long as I could.”

Beck moved to the varsity level midway through her freshman year. She’s earned All-Western Athletic Conference honors in each of her first three seasons.

The dig is a crucial piece of volleyball defense. Digs are only awarded to players who receive an attacked ball and keep it in play.

Last season, Beck’s 441 digs were by far the most on the team. Another player had 284 digs, and only one other had more than 200 at 213. That gave Beck 1,207 digs entering her final year. Already the record holder, she will smash all the previous marks.

“In three and a half years, she’ll set a record that’s probably unreachable for a while,” said Lady Panther coach Kelsey Perry. “It’s a big standard to hold people do and she’s done a great job to get that record.”

Perhaps Beck can’t explain how she does it – she just does – but the art of the dig involves being able to move quickly and dive in any direction with little time to react.

“For digs, you definitely have to be able to see,” Perry said. “You have to read the hitter. As soon as that hitter goes in the air, Baylee does a very good job of reading shoulders. If you watch her in the back row, she’s moving the whole time.

“A lot of players, especially at this age, they get stagnant and just want to stand. To be able to read the hitter and read it off the block is a big deal.”

Beck does other things for the Lady Panthers. Last season, she received 504 serves to lead the team by nearly 200 receives. On the other side of the serve, she was fifth on the team with 16 aces.

A four-year player with many accolades, Beck was already a leader by example coming into the 2017 season. She’s taken it a step further by becoming a vocal leader as well.

“I feel like this year I’ve really stepped up my communication and I’ve been a leader,” she said. “It’s my last year so I want to make it the best year. I feel like I’ve been putting in a lot of effort and trying to help everyone out.”

“She’s constantly talking to the hitters, constantly talking to the blockers,” said Perry. “If you can have a senior teaching a freshman how to do that, that’s huge for our program.”

Great Bend finished just above the .500 mark in 2016. Beck, in her final season, is looking for more, including a conference championship and a trip to the state tournament.

“We want to get a lot of wins,” she said. “We have like 82 games and we want to get at least 70 wins. We have a really big goal and we’re all working towards it.”

Baylee is the daughter of Randy and Daphne Beck of Great Bend. She plans to play volleyball at Hutchinson Community College next year.

 

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