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Dal’s Courtney Baker earns spot on national women’s volleyball team

Just three short years ago, Courtney Baker was playing high school volleyball in Bridgewater. But like her spike touch, her career is on the rise. The 19-year-old with the big jump was named to Volleyball Canada's senior national team on Tuesday.
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Dalhousie Tigers' Courtney Baker pounds the winning kill to take the first game en route to a 3-0 AUS championship win over the Memorial University Sea-Hawks in Halifax on March 4. (TIM KROCHAK / Local Xpress)

Just three short years ago, Courtney Baker was playing high school volleyball in Bridgewater.

But like her spike touch, her career is on the rise.

The 19-year-old with the big jump was named to Volleyball Canada's senior national team on Tuesday.

This will be the third straight summer in the national team program for Baker.

Last year, she was a practice player on the senior team and the year before she played for the Canadian junior team.

"These experiences set the bar higher for myself," said Baker. "I really got a good look at what it takes to be with some of the best (players) and how it’s so much more then just practising volleyball. It made me realize how far working hard takes you and how not to take anything for granted because there are many people who would kill to be in your shoes."

Baker has been an all-star performer as a right-side player for the Dalhousie Tigers over the last two seasons.

But her selection to the national team over the past three years hasn't been for her attacking ability. Instead, she has been asked to set.

New national team head coach Marcello Abbondanza made the athletic Baker one of his four setters.

She is game for the assignment.

"Getting back into the setter role is definitely challenging because it is such a different position from right-side. There is always so much to learn in each position especially in the setting position because you need such a good understanding of the game. 

"I enjoy it because you have a lot of control in setting the pace of the game and you are basically involved every time the ball comes over the net."

The five-foot-11 Baker showed off her big jump at the selection camp, rising to 10 feet and two inches in testing.

"In my opinion my strength as a setter is my athletic ability, " said Baker. "Setters are generally smaller and their ability to block isn’t as good but I would say that is a stronger part of my game."

Rick Scott, her coach at  Dalhousie, has no doubt she can handle the change in position. 

"I think an impressive thing about Courtney is that she could have set for us, but accepted and did what was best for our team. We had an experienced setter and Courtney is a great attacker, one of the best in our conference (AUS) and country, too. She's that talented.

"It shows her character to be willing to do what helped the team to be most successful. But she is really looking forward to setting in the future and we are excited to have her set."

Baker's next step is to make the roster for an international event.

One of the major events of the summer is the FIVB World Grand Prix, being hosted at the new national team training facility in Richmond, B.C., from July 21 to 23.

The team will also compete in a Pan Am Cup in Peru in June and the NORCECA Continental Championship in Trinidad in October. The team will also train and play in Anaheim with the U.S. women’s team in June.

"My goal for the summer is getting on some travel rosters for competition to apply the training I will be doing throughout the next several months."



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