Metea Valley’s Boddy rises above the crowdMetea Valley's Jessica Boddy goes for a spike against Oswego East in Oswego on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2011.
Updated: October 11, 2011 6:45PM
Jessica Boddy may bear a striking resemblance to actress Anne Hathaway, but that’s not why she could easily be termed the face of the Metea Valley volleyball program.
More likely, it’s because at 6-foot-3, the senior middle blocker usually stands out from the crowd, and she’s the first Mustang player from coach James Milkert’s fledgling program to land a NCAA Division I scholarship.
Last November she made an official visit to the University of Pittsburgh after Metea Valley’s first varsity season concluded and received an offer from coach Toby Rens. It was a season in which she put down 217 kills and made 136 blocks and earned all-Upstate Eight Conference honors along with her teammate, libero Alyssa Ensminger.
Two-and-a-half weeks later, she verbally committed and Rens had won out over programs like Illinois State, Bradley, Villanova and Georgia Tech. She will start her collegiate career in the Big East Conference and should finish it in the ACC because of Pitt’s decision to switch leagues.
In this year’s senior day program profile, she called it her best volleyball memory because “all my hard work over the past three years had finally paid off to something amazing.”
Her teammates fed off it, too, said Ensminger.
“It was exciting for all of us,” she said. “(Boddy) was able to lead by example and show what happens when you work hard.”
Boddy, who has played club ball since eighth grade for Sports Performance, started her prep career on the sophomore team at Waubonsie Valley as a freshman. She made the move to Metea Valley when it opened for her sophomore year and has been a part of the program since.
“I’m pretty thankful for it,” she said of the chance to start with a new program being built from the ground up.
“It gave me a great opportunity to be a leader and an opportunity to learn how to be mentally strong. There might be more pride in an established program, but we get to make our own memories and establish our own traditions.”
Boddy and fellow co-captain Ensminger, a 5-4 junior, may be an odd couple due to their difference in height, but they’ve teamed up to provide valuable leadership for the Mustangs, says Milkert.
“The interplay between them is something to see,” he said. “They have a great relationship.”
Ensminger said it’s because opposites apparently do attract.
“(Boddy) is a lot more outgoing and I’m more reserved,” Ensminger said. “But we’ve become good friends on and off the court the past three years.”
Boddy said they make a “really good combo on the court because she’s very intense and leads by example and will sacrifice her body for every ball. I’m more light-hearted, pick people up and make them laugh.”
The team got off to a 14-3 start this season and claimed its first tournament title with an early-season win at Plainfield North.
Boddy can be an intimidating force putting up a block at the net with her long reach, but is nimble with the attack, especially off a quick set from sophomore setter Ellie Petersen that rises just above the net before being slammed by the senior.
“That’s the best, kind of unexpected when me and my setter connect,” Boddy said. “It does help when I have a higher set, too, because I’m usually able to hit one over a block.”
It hasn’t all been smooth sailing, however.
“We’ve had our growing pains (as a program),” said Boddy. “In the beginning of a program, though, there’s always gonna be issues. Our first year, our jerseys were printed backward with the team name on the back instead of the front. Even the scoreboards didn’t work for the first match, so we had to use the flip (card) ones.
“We had to establish things. You had to make yourself work hard because there was nobody above us (as upperclassmen) pushing us. Even the juniors have had to be a part of that.”
Milkert, she says, has been a big influence.
“He’s taught me a lot about how to be a leader,” she said. “Then, of course, there’s all the coaches at Sports Performance. They’re so hardcore. They really push you to do well.”