Skinner hopes to keep up ‘special’ season

Junior outside Jordyn Skinner, named the National Player of the Week on Tuesday, leads the Sun Belt Conference in kills after recording 70 in three matches last weekend.

Lucas Aulbach

Head Coach Travis Hudson saw junior outside hitter Jordyn Skinner’s potential long before she came to the Hill.

Hudson saw so much promise in Skinner, in fact, that he flew to her hometown of Grand Rapids, Mich., one afternoon while she was in high school just to see her practice.

“We don’t have the budget to do that with kids and I certainly don’t have the time to do that,” Hudson said. “But there was just something that was just tugging at me that said get up there and get to know this kid.”

It appears all of that paid off.

Skinner has more than justified Hudson’s vote for her as the Sun Belt Conference preseason Player of the Year. She leads the Sun Belt in kills and became the second player in WKU history to be named National Player of the Week on Tuesday after recording 70 kills during the WKU Tournament. Her 30 kills against Xavier on Friday were the second-most ever for a WKU athlete in a match. 

Skinner’s play has also helped WKU rise to No. 31 in the most recent national poll — the highest ranking in school history.

What’s scary for opponents is that Skinner is just starting to reach her potential, Hudson said.

“She’s a special kid from a talent standpoint, and with Jordyn it’s just been a journey in getting her to believe that herself,” he said. “I’ve seen it in her for a long time, but I think she’s just starting to see it in herself a little.”

Skinner knew she was going to be expected to do a lot this season.

“I knew I had to step up,” she said. “I’m an upperclassman now, so I want to be accountable for what happens on the court.”

Skinner’s impact goes beyond her game on offense. She plays all over the floor and is eighth in the conference in digs.

“She plays front row and back row so everything she does impacts our performance,” said junior outside hitter Paige Wessel, Skinner’s teammate and roommate of three years. “She just brings a lot to the table.”

Skinner is also having a bigger vocal impact on the Lady Toppers this season despite the fact that she doesn’t consider herself the “leader type.”

“That was one of my goals coming into the year and I feel like I’m getting better,” she said.

Skinner’s improvement on the volleyball court this season can be attributed to her newfound confidence, Hudson said.

He said Skinner has become more mentally mature this year.

“She’s a special athlete and always has been,” he said. “But again, she’s not a kid who’s always believed in herself at a high level.”

Wessel said Skinner leads the Lady Toppers figuratively and literally.

“Jordyn is without a doubt our best player, and she is just rocking out this year,” Wessel said. “This is her time, and she has more than filled her role.”

Skinner said that since she’s had such a good start, she hopes to remain consistent as the Lady Toppers enter conference play after the American University tournament in Washington D.C., this weekend.

“I want people to know that I’m not going to be a roller coaster. I’m not going to be up and down. I’m gonna be consistent,” she said. “I want people to see me and say, ‘She’s going to do her job every day.’”