It sounds like a dream almost too good to be true – two former high school teammates getting the chance to team up and play together again – this time at the college level. And for freshman Kerry Hance and sophomore Stesha Selsky, that dream has become a reality.
Both Hance and Selsky – who played volleyball together at Marymount High School in California and have known each other for well over four years – now specialize in defense for Michigan (1-1 Big Ten, 7-4 overall). And so far, it seems to be working to the Wolverines’ advantage. Selsky – who recorded Michigan’s third-highest number of digs in a single game at 33 – was recently named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. And in just 11 games, Hance has already recorded a total of 66 digs.
“They play really well together,” coach Mark Rosen said. “While most colleges recruit the big 6-foot-5 players or the powerful centers, we were looking for more defensive players. And the more I watched them play, the more I noticed their good defense. Both started as freshmen, which is really hard to do, especially in this conference.”
Hance believes that going to the same school helped contribute to their defensive success.
“We learned similar techniques in high school,” Hance said. “We work really well in the same position. I’ll know when she’s getting the ball.”
Out on the court, Selsky started out as a defensive specialist her freshman year but was later asked to take over as the libero when the team lost former starter Sarah Allen to injury. Now just a year later, Hance has filled in for Selsky’s previous role as defensive specialist. Together, they complement each other on the court.
“During games when I mess up, she’ll cover for me, and I’ll just turn around and say ‘Thank You,’ ” Selsky said. “If we were one person, we’d be really good.”
Hance said she believes that Selsky has helped in her transition to college-level volleyball. On the court, she even asks Selsky questions about defensive strategies.
“The college level really has a much faster game,” Rosen said. “Kerry’s transition has happened quickly – about two weeks – and she has adapted well.”
Even though Rosen thinks that their personalities differ, he believes that it ultimately may be helpful for the team.
“They are very different, but I think that different components make the whole team dynamic,” he said.
Though their relationship on the court has gradually grown stronger, Hance and Selsky believe that their personal friendship has improved even more.
“When I found out that she had committed to Michigan, I was excited,” Selsky said.
“It’s comforting on and off the court to know that I can turn to someone that I can rely on, gossip with and share past memories and future experiences with.”
Off the court, Selsky has become somewhat of a mentor to Hance. In fact, Hance says that Selsky not only showed her around campus, but also helped her choose classes also.
“When I came to visit Michigan last winter, she took me around town, and we went sledding,” said Hance. “There’s no snow in California, so I liked walking through it.”
Both girls have also been able to bond over the fact that they now live so far away from home.
“I don’t get homesick,” Selsky said. “I just try to go with the flow. But I consider Kerry family. I visit her whenever I’m feeling upset.”