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Monday, January 18, 2010

For Gwen Rucker, it's all about the "net"work

Gwen and Rutgers center Kia Vaughn in the semifinals of the "who will blink first" tournament.

When you're Gwen Rucker, the seasons tend to run together. While the rest of her University of Louisville volleyball teammates work on conditioning, academics and skills, Gwen still runs the hardwood. Different venue, different sport but the same intensity on the basketball court that she displays when attacking the wide net.

Rucker, a sophomore from Lexington Henry Clay, is used to it. She was an all-state selection in both sports during her senior year in high school and although she came to Louisville on a basketball scholarship, she quickly became an important on court prescence for Leonard Yelin's volleyball Cards her freshman year. When the sports switched over, Rucker didn't miss a beat. Jeff Walz used her as the starting center during the Cards march to the NCAA runner up finish last year, preferring to bring Keisha Hines off the bench. For Rucker, it was no big deal. You learn in volleyball the important concept of team play and togetherness. It carried over to the basketball court.

This season Rucker was an essential front line force for the volleyball Cards as a middle hitter during the 2009 season. Originally the plan was for her to concentrate on volleyball only this year and take a year off from hoops. But, front court injuries and inexperience led to her return for the women's basketball team after the Volleyball Cards were knocked out of the NCAA tournament in the first round. She is back in the starting lineup, now playing alongside Keisha Hines in the Cards front court.

What next year will bring is anyone's guess. Rucker could very well be the volleyball Cards captain next year and with several talented front line players coming into to Walz's program in 2010, she may take a year off from hoops.

For now , though...she is a valuable rebounder and defensive specialist in the paint for the 2009-10 Lady Cards basketball team.

If you haven't been to Cardinal Arena to watch University of Louisville volleyball, you're missing one of the most exciting and action packed sports around. This isn't your basic back yard volleyball...the ball flies over the net at incredible speeds and players dive on the court like wide recievers in football trying to make incredible catches. The Cards won the Big East tournament last year and a strong squad returns. You owe it to yourself to get out and watch a match. If you do, you'll be hooked and back for more.

Hey, they have a net in field hockey, lacrosse and soccer. Ready to expand the resume, Gwen?

Written by Paul 1/18/10

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