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Franklin's Dailey ready to take her game to next level

Volleyball standout heading to Iowa

Dec. 1, 2009

Franklin — The Franklin girls volleyball season ended much sooner than senior Nikki Dailey had hoped, but it did not take too long for her to forget about the loss to Brookfield Central in the WIAA sectional semifinals.

Just a few weeks after the loss, Dailey signed a national letter of intent to play volleyball at the University of Iowa on a full scholarship.

"I'm so excited to play for Iowa next year," she said. "I think about it every day, and get more and more anxious with every passing month."

Dailey, a 5-foot-9-inch setter, has been outstanding during her career. She was named to the all-conference team every year since her freshman season and was the Southeast Conference player of the year as a junior.

Dailey's high school coach, Ken Huber, has been coaching her since she was in eighth grade and has watched her develop over the past five years.

Maturing as a player

She is the most special athlete I've ever coached," he said. "It's been just wonderful to watch her mature into such a great volleyball player.

"Even as an eighth-grader, she carried herself so well. I knew that her biggest hurdle was just for her to adjust from eighth grade to the starting setter as a freshman."

Dailey adjusted quickly to high school competition. Instead of letting the upperclassmen dictate when she was ready to start, Dailey took control of the situation and earned the starting setter position immediately.

More than just records

Dailey's athleticism shows up in the stat sheets. She holds school season records for most service aces and most blocks and career records for aces, assists and blocks.

Dailey doesn't boast about her records. Instead, she sees them as something for future volleyball players to strive for.

"It's great to hold a lot of records, but records are meant to be broken, and all I did was set the standards higher at my high school," Dailey said. "I think breaking the records just came along with genuinely loving the sport, enjoying practice, and challenging yourself."

Part of the reason that she was able to take herself to such a high level was by playing for the Wisconsin Juniors and Milwaukee Sting club teams. Both are highly competitive and gave Dailey additional experience.

Dailey will join an Iowa team that went 13-19 this past year and one that is currently situated at Dailey's setter position.

Opportunities are waiting

But there is a lot for Dailey to be excited about. Five of Iowa's 13 wins were against Big Ten teams, and over the past two seasons the Hawkeyes' have combined for 11 wins over league teams.

That two-year win total over conference squads marked the highest two-year total since the 2000-01 seasons when Iowa won 14 Big Ten games. The Hawkeyes could be on the verge of a breakout season.

And while Iowa might not need Dailey to contribute right away at setter, she could be asked to move to a different position.

"Depends on what they ask of her, but Nikki is an excellent passer," Huber said. "If they need her to play back row or block on the weak side, she can contribute right away. She is 100 percent competitive and hates to lose. Iowa is going to really embrace her leadership."

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