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Keene State's Peterson Digging in for LEC Volleyball Championship

Sarah Peterson
Sarah Peterson

KEENE, N.H. 9/25/08 - It’s hard to miss Sarah Peterson at a Keene State College women’s volleyball match. The fiery, red-headed, senior from Danville, N.H., is in constant motion, diving all over the court to receive balls and convert them into scoring opportunities for the Owls.

Unlike the teams’ middle blockers and outside hitters, who typically gain glamour for their crowd-pleasing spikes and blocks, Peterson does the dirty work. As the team’s defensive specialists/libero, her job is to face the furor of opposing players, who rocket balls in her direction looking for kills or the one-and-done ace.

“I don’t know why, but I really like being back there and having the players across the net smashing balls at me,” said Peterson.

Although she was recently recognized as the Little East Conference’s defensive player of the week for setting the school career-dig record (1,416), Peterson says her satisfaction comes from doing her job. “The ball wouldn’t get up to the front row if someone in the back row didn’t pass it,” Peterson said. “Volleyball is a huge team effort, and everybody appreciates each other.”

“Sarah gives a 110 percent in everything she does,” said fellow team captain Brittany O’Bryant. “She practices like it’s a championship game.”

“Her work ethic is second to none,” said KSC Coach Bob Weiner. “She does things that many fans don’t notice, but we wouldn’t be successful without them getting done. Digs aren’t flashy, but every time she gets one, we’ve stopped the other team from what they are trying to do.”

Peterson’s passion for volleyball began at a young age. Schooled in the sport by the Danville Recreation program, Peterson went to earn All-State honors as a senior captain at Timberlane Regional High School in Plaistow.

Once an Owl, always an Owl, Peterson initially considered the nursing program at Rivier College before applying just under the wire at Keene State.

Weiner remembers getting a call from Sarah’s dad, Tom Peterson, who said his daughter was interested in coming to KSC. “I really didn’t know at the time how she’d help us, but I knew she’d be better than what was here,” said Weiner. “It turned out to be a pretty lucky break. That’s the way recruiting goes sometimes.”

Starting as a sophomore, Peterson has dug up some impressive numbers playing for the Owls. Last year, she earned All-LEC second-team honors while setting the Owl record for digs in a season (570). During her tenure, KSC has set a program records for wins (25) the past two seasons, earned a pair of ECAC tournament berths, and last fall claimed the program’s first conference regular season title.

A role model on and off the court, Peterson, a dean’s-list student majoring in psychology, understands that team camaraderie is essential to the Owls’ success. “She genuinely cares about each player as an individual and about the team as a whole,” said O’Bryant. “She is a firecracker always cheering and creating a positive team atmosphere.”

Success doesn’t come without a little adversity. A schedule that includes just six home matches can be difficult and the constant diving on the floor can take its toll.

Despite her well-worn knee pads, Peterson hasn’t been immune to the scars of battle on the court. In addition to several well-placed black-and-blue marks and an occasional ball in the face, she also has a chipped hip bone that will be taken care of when her playing days are over.

But for now the task of winning a first ever LEC tournament championship and NCAA berth are paramount on her mind. “I’d trade the record I just broke for an NCAA bid any day,” she said. “That’s our focus, every practice, every game, and every match.”

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Keene, New Hampshire 03435