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DWU’s Heeg regains confidence with second half play

Confidence is not a tangible trait and it isn't something that can be taught, but it can be a crucial aspect of sports. For Dakota Wesleyan University sophomore volleyball player Chelsey Heeg, it is essential.

Dakota Wesleyan University's Chelsey Heeg digs out a serve during a match against Northwestern College on Oct. 10 in the Christen Family Athletic Center. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Dakota Wesleyan University's Chelsey Heeg digs out a serve during a match against Northwestern College on Oct. 10 in the Christen Family Athletic Center. (Matt Gade / Republic)

Confidence is not a tangible trait and it isn't something that can be taught, but it can be a crucial aspect of sports. For Dakota Wesleyan University sophomore volleyball player Chelsey Heeg, it is essential.

Heeg was a regular starter as a freshman, but Winner native Sydney Fritz was moved to outside hitter, where she was more comfortable. As Fritz excelled in her new role, Heeg was relegated to the bench, playing just three sets in the first 10 matches as the Tigers began this season 9-1.

Fritz eventually tore an ACL in September, sending Heeg back into the starting lineup. After not recording a kill in her first five matches, she has exploded, posting 134 kills in the last 14 matches.

"It was very frustrating because I knew I could do better," Heeg said. "I was like, 'What is my deal?' I think I was just frustrated. I felt like I was letting the team down, but after those first couple games, I knew Sydney was doing well and I needed to fill in that big hole."

Heeg, like most college athletes, was a standout in high school. In three years at Freeman Academy, she recorded 930 kills and 302 digs.

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As a freshman at DWU, Heeg continued her success, totaling 233 kills and 109 digs in 34 matches, so it would be natural to be unhappy after garnering little playing time early in the season.

Heeg was prepared, though. She lived in Frisco, Texas-a city outside Dallas with more than 177,000 residents-until after her freshman year of high school. Heeg was a member of the varsity squad, but saw little playing time.

That experience, coupled with her desire to support the rest of her teammates during DWU's hot start, kept Heeg upbeat during that time.

"We were doing well and we were winning," Heeg said. "I'm a team player so I was like, 'This is good and I'm having fun.' It sucked when I wasn't playing and we were winning because I wished I was a part of it, but I still was in a way."

Eventually Heeg's number was called and she was thrust back into the lineup after Fritz was injured. Initially, she placed too much pressure on herself to perform now that she had an opportunity to do so.

At 5-feet, 9-inches, Heeg was no match for some of the taller front lines in the Great Plains Athletic Conference, so she began to use her ability to place the ball to her advantage.

"She doesn't get her kills on explosive plays," DWU head coach Lindsay Wilber said. "She gets her kills on being a smart player and using the block. She can really read the block and the defense and know where to put the ball."

Heeg is beginning to regain her form from a year ago as her hitting percentage has jumped to .204 in the last 14 matches, including posting a career-high 17 kills and three blocks on Oct. 12 against the College of Saint Mary.

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"I think confidence is the big key," Heeg said. "I get down on myself because I have to fill a big hole. If I'm thinking I'm going to play bad, then I play bad. It's just a mind set.

Related Topics: DAKOTA WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY
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