Baldwin hones her big swing

Colfax grad a leader for Warriors as they rally from 0-15 start
By: Ray Hacke Journal Sports Correspondent
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Calling Hannah Baldwin a team player is putting it mildly. Sure, the Colfax High graduate has enjoyed her share of individual success on the volleyball court this season at William Jessup University in Rocklin, where she helped lead the Warriors from an 0-15 start to a second-place finish in NAIA Division I’s California Pacific (Cal-Pac) Conference during the regular season. But Baldwin’s personal accomplishments stem from her desire to contribute to something grander. The way she sees it, she’s just doing her part. “My job is to make my teammates look good and see the team succeed,” Baldwin said. “If you work hard to do that, you’ll see personal success as well.” A sophomore outside hitter for WJU (9-21), Baldwin finished second on the Warriors this season with 233 kills, including 12 in Tuesday night’s home loss to Simpson University in the opening round of the Cal-Pac Conference’s postseason tournament. The loss ended William Jessup’s season. Warriors coach Terry Stafford said Baldwin and WJU’s other outside hitter, senior Geanna Foster, combined to average 30 kills a match. “She’s come a long way since last year,” Stafford said of Baldwin. “Last year she struggled to be consistent. This year she’s really settled in and played consistently. She was among the top 10 in our conference in kills and had a big impact on games. “She’s become an impact player this year. That’s really the best way to put it.” The biggest area in which Baldwin has improved, Stafford said, is harnessing the tremendous power with which she hits the ball to deliver more accurate shots. “The way she swings, she hits a lot of balls out,” the coach said. “She’s doing a lot better at taking a little off her swing and keeping it in while still hitting with a lot of power.” Baldwin has also emerged as a vocal team leader. “She’s our cheerleader,” Stafford said. “When I’m done in the huddle, she’s the first person to encourage our team to go. That’s huge — it’s a very positive aspect of Hannah. She brings good energy to our team.” Baldwin’s cheerleading was certainly needed during William Jessup’s 0-15 start. Though the Warriors primarily played against NCAA Division II schools and stronger NAIA teams in that span, losing so many matches in a row was still discouraging. “It was definitely very difficult,” she said. “Everyone was mentally and physically strung out, and even though it was only preseason, there was pressure from that. … “But as difficult as it was, it brought us together as a team. It made us realize that win or lose, we’re still a team — all we had to do was work our hardest. It made us stronger as a team in general.” A business administration major, Baldwin hopes to eventually study nutrition and physical training. She dreams of running a business where she assists clients with their “all-around body health.” She’s still got two years of college volleyball left, though, and being the team player that she is, she plans to give it her all. “It’s a privilege to go out there and play for my team,” Baldwin said. “That’s why I work my hardest — to see the team succeed.”