Outside hitter excels on and off floor

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Standing in Ahearn Field House for the last time as a K-State volleyball player, JuliAnne Chisholm looked off pensively through misty eyes.

“It is bittersweet,” she said. “You really never think this day is coming until it actually gets here.”

But it had to come eventually. It was Chisholm’s last volleyball match here, and she ended the 3-2 win over Colorado ceremoniously with the final kill. Her final kill.

It was far from her first, though. This season, Chisholm is second on the team in kills per game and first in attempts, which stems from her team’s confidence in setting her often. Perhaps she owes some of her talent to the zeal she brings to the court.

“I just love the competitiveness that comes in volleyball,” Chisholm said. “You just want to hit the crud out of the ball.”

Her coach would tend to agree about her furious work effort.

“JuliAnne is a tireless worker,” said head coach Suzie Fritz. “She is a very process-oriented person. She’s a very detailed person.”

“It’s been a really long learning process,” Chisholm said. “When I came in, I wasn’t good. Quite honestly, I was very unskilled.”

She was athletic, she said, but the level of volleyball at K-State was higher than anything she had ever seen.

“I came in pretty strong and started my first match, and then I realized just how big everything was and how fast it was,” she said. “I had to take a dip and hit the bottom and bounce back up from there.”

And bounce back up she certainly did. Throughout her years at K-State, Chisholm has consistently set herself apart as an outstanding hitter and leader, and this season, she has filled her additional role as a passer with awe-inspiring play.

Chisholm’s outstanding abilities do not end once she leaves the court, though. It is just the opposite, really; she is perhaps more talented as a student.

“My education is very important to me,” Chisholm said. “It always has been. I strive to be the best I can be. I want to be the best in the class. If someone else can get an ‘A,’ so can I.”

ESPN concurs. This year, Chisholm was named to the network’s Academic All-America Team — for the second time in her career — for her 3.97 GPA in athletic training and life sciences and a secondary major in gerontology. Most people have trouble just saying Chisholm’s major, but she pulls perfect grades in almost every class. Almost.

“I got one ‘B’ last summer, my first one ever,” she said. “I cried.”

It was a physical anthropology course over the summer, when the workload was unnaturally high due to the brevity of the course and Chisholm was participating in camps for volleyball and basketball. There is only so much time in one day, so studying decreased, she said, and Chisholm earned her first ‘B.’

The grade did not taint her record, as Chisholm is moving on to even more schooling. Starting in 2012, she will be attending the University of Kansas School of Medicine in its Scholars in Rural Health Program, and she seems a tad happy.

“I’m super excited about that,” Chisholm said. “That’s great.”

She still has some time at K-State, though; with volleyball season over, Chisholm will be suiting up with the women’s basketball team for this season and the next.

“I haven’t ever relaxed,” Chisholm said, when asked if the transition from one sport to the other would be too quick. “I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. Even when we have days off of practice, like in the middle of the season, I sit at home and I’m like, ‘I don’t really know what to do with myself. Can I go practice?'”

She will be sorely missed from the volleyball team. Fritz said Chisholm is “good at everything she tries” and that she would be hard-pressed to name another player who has worked harder.

“If we’ve learned anything from JuliAnne, we’ve learned how to work,” Fritz said. “She’s a focused and tireless worker. She kind of sets the bar for ‘here’s the pace at which we’re going to work.”

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