Natalie Hackbarth has had her ups and downs as a member of the Creighton volleyball team.
After starting 16 games last season as a sophomore, Hackbarth has taken more of a leadership role while coming off the bench for emerging underclassmen Melanie Jereb and Leah McNary. With one year of eligibility remaining, Hackbarth will graduate a year early in May with a degree in journalism.
She will be honored before Saturday’s match with Illinois State along with seniors Brooke Boggs, Megan Bober and Brittany Moon.
* * *
Q: When you and the team aren’t on the court, what are some of your favorite things to do off of it?
A: One of our favorite things is to go get dessert together. We don’t get to do it a lot, so it is a fun team activity and stress reliever.
Q: As an upperclassman, do you feel the need to show the ropes to some of the younger players, or do they catch on pretty quickly?
A: I’d say they caught on pretty fast. I think they’ve taken a leadership role themselves actually, which is great. It doesn’t really feel like we have freshmen and upperclassmen, it kind of feels like we’re one big group, one big team.
Q: What is it like being a member of a Top 25 team in your third and final year?
A: It’s really exciting. It’s kind of a whirlwind, it’s really crazy. You hear a lot from professors and friends and family about how well we’re doing, but it’s really important to stay focused on the court, even though everything is so exciting and we have done so well this far.
Q: You’re a big vocal leader from the bench. Is that something that is natural for you?
A: I was born that way. I’m a pretty loud person, pretty energetic, especially when it comes to volleyball, which I love. I love supporting my team and it’s a great way to show my personality.
Q: You’re being honored on Saturday along with the seniors on the team. What are your plans for after the season?
A: Academically, I’m eligible to graduate (in May). I’ve also decided to graduate because of an injury I have. There’s nothing I can do about it, it’s just going to get worse every day. It doesn’t seem like something I am really willing to push any further. I actually have been offered a full-time job at Quantum Workplace, where I have been interning since May. I’m really excited about that.
Q: Has this season been your favorite one since you’ve been on campus?
A: Definitely. One, because of how much success we’ve had but two, because we have the most fun as a team I’ve ever had. We’re friends off the court which I don’t think every team can say. Every moment, whether we’re running lines in practice or having fun together, we connect really well as a team and that’s something special to be a part of.