LANSING | Jaclene Bonnema has seen that look in the opponents' eyes more times than she can count.
Usually, the look comes as the 6-foot-1 senior practices her kills during four-minute warm-up drills prior to a match. The opponents may try to hide their reaction as Bonnema warms up, but it is not easy disguising fear.
"It's a good feeling," Bonnema said of the intimidation she often sees.
Illiana Christian coach Nikki Van Dyke makes her players put together a list of personal goals before the beginning of each season. At mid-season, Van Dyke will review the list with each player.
Bonnema has already met all of her on-court goals this season except for one, and that one which is yet to be decided may be the most impressive of the lot: She hopes to finish the year without having a kill attempt by her blocked.
Middle hitters usually don't lead their teams in kills, but Bonnema is proving to be the exception to the rule so far this season.
The Dyer resident easily led the squad through 22 matches with 143 kills, 40 of which came during a five-match, all-tournament performance at the Manteno Invitational Sept. 24, where the Vikings took third.
The strong showing by the Vikings at Manteno came on the heels of a pair of unexpected Metro Suburban losses earlier in the week to Timothy Christian and Riverside-Brookfield.
Bonnema followed up her performance at Manteno by being named to the all-tournament team at the Tinley Park Invitational on Oct. 1, where she delivered 35 kills and 36 blocks while leading the Vikings to the tournament title.
"I think (the pair of losses) was a wake-up call for us," said Bonnema, a two-year starter. "Now that it's in the middle of the season, and school is really kicking in, we need to really focus and take practices more seriously."
As a left-handed player, Van Dyke conceded it would make it easier on the setter to have Bonnema play right side or outside hitter, but then the Vikings would not fully benefit from what the imposing hitter actually does best -- block shots.
Bonnema has averaged nearly five blocks per contest so far this season, including 27 blocks at the Manteno tournament.
"She's really blossomed as a player for us this year," Van Dyke said. "One of the reasons we have been so successful this year is because she has such a presence on the court and is so great on defense."
Bonnema had surgery in the spring to repair torn cartilage in her right knee. She returned to the court in time for summer workouts, and said the injury only bothers after matches or tournaments.
"I don't think (the knee surgery) has affected my jumping at all," Bonnema said.
Bonnema is also a member of the National Honor Society and hopes to one day either be a physical therapist or athletic trainer. Van Dyke said it is Bonnema's demeanor on the court that adds to her physical skills on a volleyball court.
"She is a quiet leader," Van Dyke said. "After a kill or block, you don't really see her do much celebrating, and I know that is why a lot of teams respect her and that is why our team respects her. She never gets too high or low on the court, and that is a good influence on her teammates."