LOWELL | On a volleyball team with a dominant middle hitter, it's easy for an outside hitter to get lost in the front-row shuffle.
Lowell's Jessica Sharkey won't let that happen.
Playing on the same hitting line as Anna Sacco for the Red Devils, Sharkey finds her fair share of touches and remains dominant from the outside for the Northwest Crossroads Conference's No. 3 team.
"Our team can't go without a Jessica Sharkey," Lowell coach Kim Kilmer said. "We've got four pretty strong, dominant hitters, but we can't go without Sharkey."
The senior has 273 kills, 83 digs and has played everywhere from the middle to the outside to the back row this season. When the Red Devils (20-11) had to replace an arm like the graduated Carissa Thiel, who played in the middle, they looked for the overall package.
"I really like sharing the ball," Sharkey said. "I know that Anna is going to dominate out there, but that there's also a lot of sharing the ball, I would rather it be that way. It's also sharing the excitement. I love it when someone else gets a kill, it's exciting, too."
To step into a dominant role, Sharkey first had to corral her confidence. With more experience, she was able to monitor her mental game and found her stats improved.
"Looking back on the last couple years, the one thing that kept me back was that mental game," Sharkey said. "I realized that once I took control of it, it really was simple as that.
"I still have my times when I get down, but it's just realizing you have to move on from whatever it is that gets in the way."
Kilmer said that conquering the mental hurdle has helped make Sharkey into the dominant player who had 14 kills in a win over Munster and another 14 in a loss to the Mustangs.
"She's grown into herself and that maturity is huge for a player and her mental game," Kilmer said. "No. 2, I think there's a lot of passion there. Every single time we have a bad night, if we have a bad night, every single time we talk this is a kid who is in the lockerroom in tears because we didn't pull out a win or this is the kid who is talking about how we can't give up.
"There's some passion there and it bothers her when she doesn't play her best or her team doesn't play the best."