Set for Success
Underwood’s Jacey Ross
by Lexus Haut
Photography by Thru Him Photography
If you ask many high school seniors what they’re most looking forward to, the answer you’ll typically get it is “graduation.” But for Jacey Ross, she wants nothing more than to take her team to state.
This fall Jacey Ross is a senior at Underwood High School in Underwood, MN. She is the youngest of three kids, and the daughter of both the football and volleyball coaches. Coming from an athletic family her career was not a given, but at the same time it’s not all that surprising.
For the last 18 years, Jacey has lived and breathed volleyball.
Growing up, she would watch her mom on the court – not as a player, but as the coach. She remembers running around the gym from the time she could walk. It’s where she spent a majority of her time, and made lifelong friends. Jacey knew that because of her raw talent and her mom’s knowledge, she would become a volleyball player someday. At her first opportunity, which was in 4th grade, Jacey went out for the volleyball team and the rest is pretty much history. Being the coach’s daughter the sport was never forced on Jacey. She learned the game and fell in love all on her own.
In her second year, Jacey decided to follow in her mom’s footsteps – one step further. She became the setter for her team. Not only was that the position that her mom played, but it’s where she felt most at home. “When you think of a setter, you think of a quarterback,” she said. “She’s the playmaker, the leader, the transition from play to point.”
Teammate, Captain, Friend
In talking with her teammates it’s clear to see that Jacey’s mentality and skill have formed not only an amazing person, but an extraordinary player.
“Jacey is a great teammate and she is also one of my best friends. She is a great leader on the court and I love playing with her in volleyball and basketball!”
“Jacey is a great person to play next to on the floor, she always wants to win, and is willing to do what’s needed as our setter!”
From these words, one can see that Jacey has had quite a successful career, but let the numbers speak for themselves. In 2014, during her sophomore year, Jacey completed her one-thousandth set assist. A set assist is when her set leads to a kill.
She hopes to reach two-thousand by the end of the year and in doing so will break the school record.
Last season’s stats include 98 kills, 671 set assists, 44 ace serves and 296 digs.
Jacey was selected as co-captain in her junior year. It’s likely that this title will carry over into her final year. As captain and setter, the team looks to Jacey for guidance and reassurance. It’s a big role to fill, but she’s gotten used to the responsibility.
During the off-season, Jacey is like any other teenager from Minnesota. She loves to spend time with her family and friends at the lake. She also enjoys going to sporting events, in particular, Gopher volleyball games. She also plays basketball for Underwood in the winter months. A majority of her time, however, is invested in the game of volleyball. Jacey spends almost every day in the gym, and attends volleyball camps on a regular basis.
Mother : Coach,
Daughter : Player
This will be the fifth year together on the court for Jacey and her mom, Diane. It all started in Jacey’s 8th grade year, when she was moved up to Varsity. As one can imagine, it’s not always easy to keep their home and court relationships separate, but they do the best they can. When it comes to Jacey’s teammates, they’re aware of the mother/daughter relationship and understand the dynamics involved. If decisions are ever questioned or accused of being bias, the situation is always addressed in a positive manner. Jacey doesn’t let this affect her game, she says, “You just have to let it go.”
Over the years sharing the love of the game has done nothing but strengthened Jacey and her mom’s relationship.
“I am very proud of her as a daughter and a player. She has a passion for the game and that is fun to watch both as a coach and mom,” says Diane.
As proud as her mom is, Jacey couldn’t be more thankful for what she’s taught her. Leadership, responsibility, endurance — she’s got it all.
Now or Never
Going into her senior year, Jacey knows that this run will eventually come to an end. What she’s telling herself, “Play every game like it’s your last, because at some point it will be and I know that.” Looking back at her career, she described it as “lucky.” She hasn’t had any major injuries or set-backs, and for a high school athlete she knows how fortunate she is.
For now she just wants to see how the season will go but, with six starters returning she’s definitely optimistic. The current team has been playing together since elementary school. They have great chemistry and know how to communicate on the court. Going into this year, it’s safe to say they all have the same goal. Jacey hasn’t seen the lights of state since she was moved to varsity in 8th grade. She says, “Going to state would probably be my dream come true.”
As for her future, it is currently unplanned. Jacey hopes to attend a four-year school that she loves and play volleyball for them. She wants to pursue the medical field and someday become a Registered Nurse.
Wherever life may take her, you can rest assured that the game will go with her. “Volleyball has been my whole life, it’s hard to picture it without it.”