Heather Leavitt, coming into her junior year of volleyball for PLNU, already posted a number of season bests. In her junior year, Leavitt was a NCCAA second team All-American, a first team All-PacWest selection, a San Diego Hall of Champion Star of the Month and Sea Lions’ Defensive Player of the Year.
Leavitt was ranked third in the PacWest with 4 kills per set and 40 service aces. She ended the season with 584.5 points and recorded double-figure kills in 32 of 36 matches, including the final 13 matches of the season. An Arizona native, Leavitt is 5’11” and majored in business finance.
This last week, Leavitt was Sea Lion of the Week.
The Point: What are some steps you take in preparing for a game?
Heather Leavitt: Nothing special. Usually I get ‘in the zone’ mentally. I don’t like to eat a big meal before a game. I do other things like putting my left sock on first before going out, and I also wear the same sports bra before every game.
This marks the second straight year that you’ve been leading the team in kills. Could you highlight some of your keys for success in that?
HL: I just go hard every point, but I think it reflects how the team plays also. I couldn’t make those plays without getting a good pass, a good dig or a good set. Also, our middle blockers are very good, so when they’re doing well, it frees me up to play better, too. This year we’ve been really focusing on having love for our teammates. So if my teammate misses a ball, I want to sacrifice myself to lay out for my team, just respecting the game and the team you’re playing. Showing them that you’re going hard every point respects them, too.
Are there any aspects in your game that you’re looking to improve on from last year?
HL: All around, everything. I’m trying to become more talented in every position as well as being smarter where I place the ball with my kills. Last year I would hit the ball without trying to hit it in certain areas, but this year I am trying to mix it up with some “dookey” tips every now and then.
This is the team’s first year of competitive play in the NCAA. How has the level of competition increased this year for you?
HL: There’s a lot more pressure to make the regionals after the season. So we literally have to win every game we can. You have to show up ready to work hard every game. This year during our preseason tournament we lost four games, so we’re looking to rebound from that. These teams are more feisty and physical than some of the NAIA teams at the national tournament. I would say these teams [NCAA] are more cohesive and balanced as well.
Are there any specific things that your coaches or teammates do to boost your confidence when you’re on the floor?
HL: The coaches definitely yell at you when you need to be yelled at, but they also pick you up when you need to be picked up or compliment you, which is really good to hear. With my teammates, it’s kind of the same thing, but when you make a mistake, everyone gets into a huddle to build each other up. It’s good when someone has your back.
Where do you want to see your team ending up this year?
HL: I think we need to keep ourselves to high expectations, dreaming big, not even winning every game, but showing up to every game ready to play hard. If we play the way that all of us can at the same time, we’ll be unstoppable, and then the winning will come. So that would be the first goal—to show up. One of our team goals this year is, “Win clean, win dirty,” which means we have to beat the teams we’re supposed to beat, and with the teams we’re unfavored to win against, we have to be scrappy and lay out for every single point.