Senior Middle Blocker/Right Side Hitter Savannah Benton has been one of the ‘Jackets best players for her entire career in Rochester. As a sophomore, she led the team in kills, blocks, and attack percentage, and as a junior she was named All-UAA Honorable Mention. Already this season Benton has been a major part of UR victories over Oswego State, Hamilton College, and SUNY Potsdam. Although the team has started slowly this fall, with conference play still yet to begin, Benton and her teammates have much to play for in the coming months.
When did you first start playing volleyball?
I started playing when I was 13 and I was really terrible. I actually was so bad that I started hating volleyball, resenting my parents for making me play, and crying at practice. But the more they made me go, the more I realized I had a lot of potential as a player, which tends to be true if you’re 13 and just south of six feet.
What is your favorite part about the sport?
It’s a team sport, the truest team sport. There can’t be a star player or anything like that because no one person is allowed to touch the ball twice in a row. You have to rely on other people and that has allowed me to learn a lot off the court as well as during the game.
How has Coach Iya helped you to improve as a player?
I’m really stubborn and I have a hard time dealing with authority. But Coach has always been very patient with me. I thank her a lot for that because it shows that no matter what my attitude is she still believes in my and my ability to lead the team.
Why did you choose UR?
Honestly? I’m a transfer and I wanted to go to NYU. But they didn’t let me in. So I wanted to be on a team in a conference with NYU and beat them in some really dramatic important match. We beat them out for 5th place in our conference my first year here, which is actually a huge deal because the UAA is exceptionally competitive. And I scored the game winning point.
What is your best volleyball memory from your time at UR?
That same NYU match my first year. It was the last game of the season and for some reason the team went HAM. Every point we scored we sang a song or danced around in circles like little kids. We were probably so obnoxious. But it fueled us to play even better, because who wants to look like dorks and lose the match? And it made me realize that even if I chose to come to UR based on a silly reason, I was staying because I’d found an awesome team.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
When I was 16 and still very inexperienced, I had a coach tell me, “Savannah, you’re bigger than every player you’ll ever meet, meaning you should be better than every player you’ll ever meet.” And now I see that is totally not true. I am not even better than half the players I meet. But thinking that I am better, even if I’m not, allows me to play much freer. I don’t have to worry about being scared of a team no matter how good they are because I go into the match assuming I can beat them all.
Do you have any pre-match superstitions?
This is pretty embarrassing, but I talk to myself in the mirror. I say things like, “Dude, keep it up,” or “You look awesome today,” or “You’re a super genius voice of a generation, and everyone loves you.” Confidence is key, man.
How does it feel to be a senior on the team this year?
[Laughs] Not at all. I don’t feel any extra pressure, and it doesn’t feel any different to me. I really like playing the senior card when it comes time to take down the net though. It just doesn’t feel real yet that this is my last year and my last season. It was a really odd roller coaster, and everyday it still is, but I’m happy I found a home at UR and on this team. For all the bad stuff there is about 130 percent more good that I am happy about everyday.
Shapiro is a member of
the class of 2016.