QUINCY -- Watching Quincy Notre Dame's Sydney Hummert play volleyball could be compared to watching fireworks explode during the Fourth of July.
Fans would oooh and ahhh they watched Hummert soar through the air to repeatedly pound spike after spike. Anyone who saw her graceful leaping ability and powerful swing this fall would understand why she has been named The Herald-Whig's Player of the Year.
When Raiders first-year coach Courtney Kvitle looks at Hummert, she too appreciates her talent and production.
However, she also sees untapped potential.
"We're not there yet," Kvitle said. "She's capable of so much more. I see all the great things she does, but she has to get better to play where she wants."
Hummert has talked with Illinois-Chicago, SIU-Edwardsville and Loyola, and several more are sure to contact her. She's happy to have a coach who has lived the Division I volleyball experience and is pushing her every day.
"I kind of like it," she said. "I like how she gets on me.
"I remember when she was hired. It was like, 'Oh my gosh, she's an All-American.' We were excited to have her. She has such good advice, and she can help us."
Kvitle sees a little of herself when she watches Hummert play.
"There are definitely similarities between the two of us," she said. "I was a little more outspoken than she is, and she's kind of go with the flow. She doesn't want to make anybody mad, and I was a little more cutthroat.
"If she's going to play Division I, it's going to be her determination that says, 'This is what I'm going to do. I'm going to dedicate myself and get better at volleyball.' I know what it took for me to get where I did -- a lot of sacrifice and work."
Kvitle recalled the book "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell that she read in high school.
"He wrote that it takes 10,000 hours to be great at something," she said. "The players who get so many reps are the ones who get really good. Sydney just needs more time. She knows how to do it. It's like studying for a test. The person who studied more is going to get an A."
Hummert says she wants to improve her defense and serving, even though she led the Raiders in passing and service aces.
"I also want to become more of a team leader," she said. "When I was a freshman, I was more quiet. I didn't know how to express my voice. Now with Courtney teaching me, it's something I can work on."
With a year under her belt, Kvitle is ready to spend a little time to help Hummert attain her goals.
"I know when people watch her, they say, 'Oh my gosh. She just hammers the ball,'" Kvitle said. "When I watch her, I see she just uses her arm. What if she got her body into the ball. You think she hits it hard now? Wait until she learns how to strengthen her core and get all her torque into the ball.
"I know she can do it. She has so much potential. She's yet to tap into it."
BY THE NUMBERS
381: Number of kills in 38 games.
757: Number of kills in past two seasons.
242: Number of digs this season, more than 80 fewer than last season. Her defense improved so much that teams tried to hit away from her.
45: Team-leading number of aces
66: Number of victories for the Raiders in the past two seasons, the most in back-to-back seasons since 1982 and 1983.