Transfer adds championship experience

Transfer adds championship experienceBartek joins the volleyball team after a season at Nebraska

For most sophomores, fitting in is for freshman year. But for UK volleyball player Brooke Bartek, the process came a year late.

Bartek, an outside hitter on the volleyball team, transferred from Nebraska after just one season in Lincoln, Neb. The sophomore was an integral part of the Cornhuskers’ national championship run last year but decided to transfer for the opportunity to start at another school.

“The opportunity to play (was a factor),” Bartek said. “I wanted to be out on the court.”

Bartek is getting that opportunity this year as a starter for the Cats. The sophomore is averaging 2.39 kills a game and has five service aces on the year. More importantly, she brings national championship experience to a program on the rise.

“(Bartek) knows what it takes to win at the highest level,” head coach Craig Skinner said. “She’s been there before. She has gotten better from day one and we expect her to continue to do that.”

Skinner, a former assistant coach at Nebraska, knew of Bartek’s talent early on. The third-year head coach recruited Bartek while he was at Nebraska. When he heard she was looking to transfer, he sought permission to talk to his former recruit.

“I felt I was a perfect fit in this program,” Bartek said. “It was an easy choice.”

The easy choice has paid dividends for the Cats so far in 2007, said sophomore setter Sarah Rumely. The Cats are off to a 9-2 start and posted a six-game winning streak earlier in the year, UK’s longest streak since 2004.

“(Bartek) is definitely that integral person that can help us be all that we can be,” Rumely said. “I feel that I can give her the ball in any type of situation.”

Because the Cats are already loaded with leadership and talent, Bartek is trying to do the little things to get UK to the next level.

“I try to get the team fired up,” Bartek said. “And those other little things that need to be done.”

Bartek’s biggest job may be helping UK’s other outside hitters, freshmen Sarah Mendoza, Ann Armes and Annmarie Behr.

“We all have a close relationship,” Bartek said. “But I do have the experience and that helps them.”

While Skinner said putting national title expectations on Bartek are “unrealistic,” Bartek still has the drive to get her second title.

“It’s always the goal (to win the national championship),” Bartek said. “But right now, we’re looking at the SEC Championship.”