Block party: Volleyball dominates the country in stops

Senior middle blocker Jasmin Sneed broke the all-time blocks record this season. Photo by Jon Mirador

Noah Fleischman, Sports Editor

When senior middle blocker Jasmin Sneed rises above the net, there’s a good chance the ball won’t make it over. 

The San Antonio, Texas, native has a knack for blocking a volleyball at the net, but her love for blocking a ball came from a different sport: basketball. Sneed said timing a block in basketball is similar to timing jumps in volleyball.

“I just have always been a defensive player,” Sneed said. “I just have always loved blocking in volleyball and basketball. Blocking is just everything for me.”

Sneed has anchored volleyball’s defensive presence during her four-year career, leading the Rams to the top of the NCAA’s block list this season. Sneed sits on top of the total blocks list with 112 as an individual and the team does as well with 214.

Redshirt-senior middle blocker Jaelyn Jackson sits third in total blocks in the NCAA with 87. 

Sneed is second in the nation in blocks per set, and she uses that as motivation to chase the No. 1 spot in both blocks per set and total blocks. 

Earlier this season, Sneed broke the career blocks record set by Tori Baldwin last season at 519. Sneed currently has 617 career blocks, and she said she wants to keep extending the record “to put it out of reach” of those to come. 

Blocking has been a staple of coach Jody Rogers’ program. Her first recruiting class had the best average blocks per set in the country in 2017 with 3.29 and total blocks (381.5). This season, her second recruiting class is in its senior season and sits atop the nation as well. 

Over the last three weeks, Jackson and Sneed were named Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Week after standout blocking matches. Sneed earned the honors the past two weeks in a row.

Sneed averaged 2.25 blocks per set against La Salle and Duquesne, while Jackson averaged 1.69 per set over the Carolina Classic. 

Rogers said when she finds out one of her players has won an award, she tells them right away. 

“It’s a great accomplishment and they need to know that,” Rogers said. “You get more with honey than you do with vinegar. When they do something great, you have to embrace it.”

When Sneed floats in the air and brings the ball down with force, she can count on hearing shouts of a familiar saying in the gym. Senior libero Madalon Simpson created “#BlocksByJazzy,” and she yells it when Sneed logs another block. 

“That feeling just electrifies me and my team, and we get really crunk and all come together,” Sneed said.

At times during the season, the Rams had multiple blocks in a rally, making it tough for the other team to earn the point, and it mostly ended with VCU earning the point on a block. 

“It’s like I’m playing patty-cake or ping-pong,” Sneed said. “I’m just like ‘nope, nope, just nope.’ Those plays are so much fun. I’m going to keep blocking, let’s see who wins.”

During some matches this season, Sneed said teams started to “tip” the ball over the net, instead of hitting it over. 

“It’s just great because after that you’ll see the other team get scared and not wanting to hit through our blocks,” Sneed said. “We’re like ‘OK, you’re scared now.’”

When she jumps, Sneed’s forearm, almost up to her elbow, goes over the net to try to block the ball, creating a tough barrier to get past. 

Rogers said that when she sees a VCU middle blocker jump to contest an attack, she’s confident it will not make it over the net. 

Sneed agreed. 

“My team, we’re a wall and I love it,” she said. 

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