Sept. 20, 2013
By Austin Miller, OleMissSports.com
OXFORD, Miss. -- She wears a different colored jersey. But that's not the only reason Kristen Brashear has stood out this season.
The freshman from Louisville, Ky., has started all 10 matches at libero, a specialized, back row defensive position that wears a contrasting jersey from her teammates.
"It's given me a great opportunity to get comfortable with the rest of the team," Brashear said. "It's helped me to be able to be on my game and learn the positions better and get a lot more reps. It's helped my confidence, and I have enjoyed it a lot."
Brashear also leads the team and ranks 10th in the Southeastern Conference in digs, averaging 3.89 digs per set. At the GW Invitational, where she earned All-Tournament team honors, she set a single-match record for an Ole Miss freshman with 28 digs against George Washington.
"I think anytime a freshman is playing, it speaks to the skill level that they come in with, and she came in very skilled and has been playing with a lot of confidence," head coach Joe Getzin said. "She has a done a great job for us filling that great void at libero.
"She has also surprised us with her passing, and it has continued to improve, and that's the area she still has to work on. Defensively, she's made some phenomenal plays, and we will continue to see that."
One of five freshmen on this year's team, Brashear enrolled in summer classes, which has paid off for her on and off the court.
"I came in this summer by myself, and to be honest, it was quiet and lonely in the dorms, but Ty Laporte really helped me and reached out to me," Brashear said. "She made me feel comfortable with the older teammates and made me feel welcome, and it really helped me get through the summer as the only freshman.
"It also really paid off because I got two credits under my belt, and I got to bond with the team before the other freshmen. I got the workout routine down, and I got a feel for how practices were going to be."
Brashear stepped in for a fellow defensive specialist, junior Cara Fisher, who missed the first two weeks of the season with a broken collarbone before returning last weekend at the TCU Nike/Molten Invitational.
"I knew there was going to be more of an opportunity for me to start as a freshman because she would be out, and the team would need more of a leadership presence on the floor," Brashear said. "Now that Cara's back it's awesome to have her on the court and it makes our defense that much better."
"Both of them are going to be on the floor," said Getzin of Brashear and Fisher. "One will play a couple more rotation as the libero. Kristen has done a great job of competing with Cara. Right now they're in a good battle."
Austin Miller is a writer and blogger for OleMissSports.com. He joined the staff in June 2013 after serving as sports editor of the Daily Mississippian. Follow him on Twitter @austinkmiller.