UW Volleyball | Jill Collymore serves up several talents
Washington's senior outside hitter's remarkable resume includes pianist, painter and poet as well as volleyball standout.
Special to The Seattle Times
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Memo to anyone who mocks the term "student-athlete" — consider the straight A's on the curriculum vitae of senior Jill Collymore, the strong-armed, endlessly inquisitive pianist-painter-poet-outside hitter of the Washington volleyball team.
Collymore is a major reason the Huskies (23-5), who play Thursday in Fort Collins, Colo., are seeded sixth in the NCAA tournament.
Academics: Last week Collymore, who carries a double major (honors digital arts and psychology), was named an Academic All-America in volleyball for the second straight year — second team this year, third team last. She has been on the Pac-10's all-brain first team for her past three seasons. Current grade-point average: 3.77.
Artistry: Four times, first at age 13, she was the featured pianist in youth showcases with the Denver Symphony Orchestra. She excels at painting and sketching, and has taught cartooning at her prep alma mater, the Bush School.
She crafts poems (twice during high school she had selections published), tinkers with spoken-word poetry and aspires to direct films, write screenplays, or do both. A contributor to several student film festivals, Collymore plans to pursue grad work in filmmaking after receiving her undergraduate degrees.
Athleticism: The 5-foot-10 Collymore has cultivated a harrowing jump serve that can descend on its target with concussive force. When precisely delivered, a Collymore serve screams over the net like a malevolent cruise missile. She ranks ninth nationally in aces per set (.54). Last Wednesday, she scorched Oregon State with a season-best six aces.
Along with UW libero Tamari Miyashiro, Collymore has been invited to train with the U.S. national team in January. Oregon State coach Taras Liskevych, a former head coach of the U.S. women's team (1985-96), understands why.
"She's got a world-class serve," Liskevych said. "It would score internationally. When a server like that gets hot, watch out. It's very difficult to stop her."
Her intimidating serve, an all-or-nothing, full-body power surge, made Collymore a fan favorite at Edmundson Pavilion.
For all her cerebral sophistication, Collymore is an affable 22-year-old who exhibits a vigorous competitive streak.
"It's fun to go hard," said Collymore. "I just love our team because we're the most competitive, aggressive women ever. We play board games at my house and it gets so intense some people can't handle it because we're so competitive."
That drive has made it tough for Collymore, Washington's 2004 high-school player of the year, to accept her new role, serving specialist, after starting UW's first 14 Pac-10 matches. The No. 3 outside hitter position she previously held is now occupied by her roommate and best friend, junior Becky Perry.
Collymore, whose sister was an All-American at Florida (2002-05), has posted 51 aces this season. Six times she has led or shared the lead for UW in kills. Yet 70 service errors accompany her 51 aces, not an uncommon ratio for a power server, and she hit below .100 in three of her past four starts.
"It has been, frankly, utterly crushing at times," said Collymore, who redshirted in what would have been her junior year (2007) in hopes of raising her game and seeing more action.
"You're giving it everything you have, so when you don't get to the place you want to be it's natural to feel crushed, especially after such a long time. But if you're giving your all, you have to be satisfied with that while still working toward the ultimate goal."
Said Washington coach Jim McLaughlin: "She works so hard. She just has to let her thoughts serve her well to make the right choices in every situation."
Of course, nothing is quite that simple for the deep-thinking Collymore.
"I'm this inquisitive person who really wants to look into things," she said. "This is my gift as well as my burden, and my possible downfall. I have this proclivity to analyze things at a very deep level. Sometimes it actually tortures you because you can't stop considering possibilities."
That is so Jill, Perry said.
"She always wants to learn more and know what's out there," she said. "It's amazing that someone constantly wants more knowledge. But at the same time, it's question after question after question, always analyzing. I'll laugh and say, 'Jill, you're doing it again.' "
Despite their competition, Perry says their friendship is solid.
"She's the first person to tell me I had a good game," Perry said.
"In a strange way, it's the best possible option," she said. "If you're not playing, and it's hard for you, at least there's someone who you love so dearly who gets to play."
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.