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Juniors lively spirit is contagious

November 7, 2002
Junior outside hitter Jenny Rood is known as "the Energizer bunny" of the Spartan volleyball team. Rood is considered one of the team —

Fans flock to MSU volleyball matches to watch the Spartans battle fierce competition. But they also come to see the buzz Jenny Rood creates with her performance on the court.

Following every kill, block or opponent error, Rood makes her feelings known, ecstatically jumping like a bunny. Added with the continuous energy players say she radiates on the floor, she was given the nickname “the Energizer bunny.”

“As far as the Energizer bunny goes, Jenny just loves to play,” MSU head coach Chuck Erbe said. “She just has limitless energy.”

Some players say Rood seems to jump higher in excitement than she does when she’s mounting a kill on the opponent’s sideline.

But despite having overflowing energy, the road to success at MSU didn’t come easy for the junior middle converted to outside hitter.

Rood didn’t see the floor much during her freshman year, but she’s been a big part of the Spartan offense the past two seasons. Still, it didn’t come easy.

Just ask her.

“My freshman year, Chuck told me that I had the worst arm swing out of any player that had ever come into his program,” Rood said. “So we had a lot of work to do.”

As a work-in-progress, Rood continuously worked on her skills, and near the middle of her freshman year, her effort paid off as she earned a spot on the court.

She landed a spot on the outside, but after two injuries to Spartan middles, she was moved into the middle position, where she remained until earlier this season.

While playing as a middle hitter, Rood developed a quick and deep friendship with another middle, senior Angela Morley. The two played volleyball and basketball against each other in high school, but pre-college rivalry aside, Rood and Morley became close because of faith.

Morley took her to Athletes in Action, a Christian group, and the close-knit friendship blossomed.

Through her friendship with Morley, Rood was able to tighten her skills and learn a lot from her middle counterpart. The friendship also gave Morley the opportunity to learn about Rood.

“She’s definitely the hardest worker on the team,” Morley said. “She’s committed and dedicated to this team. It’s so much fun to play with her because she brings so much energy and excitement to the floor.”

In her junior year, Rood is using that energy and excitement, helping the Spartans to their 15-7 overall mark this year.

“I think Jenny’s done a miraculous job for us this season,” Erbe said. “The best thing I can say about Jenny is that she’s a tireless worker. She’s always accepting of coaching, no matter how critical.

“If she has a bad match, she’s in early every day working on her game so she can be better and more consistent to her team. That is a remarkable characteristic.”

With her willingness to learn and do whatever she can to help her team, Rood was switched positions to fill a void in MSU’s lineup. She moved from middle to outside hitter, but because she played there her freshman year, it wasn’t foreign territory.

Using her quickness - something she needed to run plays at the middle position - Rood has fit right in on the outside. Her speed allows her not only to be dominant when running outside-hitter plays, but she can also run sets that are usually restricted to middle hitters.

Using her assorted skills, Rood has had some impact in the six matches at the position, but her performance last week was explosive. She pounded a career-high 24 kills in MSU’s five-game thriller over then-No. 11 Penn State. And the game before, she had a solid 16 kills against Michigan on Oct. 30.

Still, Rood says her performance isn’t top-notch.

“I think I carried my load, but I also think I can do a lot better,” she said. “I think I’ve had better matches and I don’t feel like I’m where I need to be.

“I have a long way to go.”

Regardless of where Rood feels she needs to be athletically, she has taken the role of leadership by leading by example.

“My freshman year, I was like a sponge. I was soaking up anything the upperclassmen would tell me because I wanted to get where they were,” she said. “So right now, all that stuff they passed on to me, I’d be really selfish not to pass that on to my teammates and help them get better.”

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