| March 18, 2018

Volleyball: Facing her sister’s team won’t stop Jenna Ellis’ optimism on opening weekend

August 27, 2015

Jenna Ellis starts her senior season by facing three competitive opponents in Manoa, Hawaii.

Jenna Ellis

Jenna Ellis

But it’s Saturday’s game against Oregon State that has a special meaning to Ellis.

The match will feature a sisters’ encounter as Jenna’s sister Kayla, a freshman defensive specialist/libero, plays for the Beavers.

Despite their family making the trip to Manoa, it’s all business for the Ellis sisters as soon as the match begins, knowing they are entering their second of three games in a span of three days. However, she is looking forward to play against Kayla.

“We’re both there for volleyball,” Jenna said. “But it’ll be nice to have the support from our family and to see her across of the net will be super comforting too. We’ve always played with each other. The only time we’ve ever been against each other was at practice.”

When facing siblings, there are times when they talk back and forth to each other in order to gain a competitive edge. But Jenna said it’s quite the opposite.

“It’s been really supportive,” Jenna said. “She has funny comments, just jokes. But for the most part, we pretty much support each other and have that kind of relationship.”

Jenna described Kayla’s playing style as very similar to hers and she is happy Oregon State has her on the team.

“Same size, slightly taller,” Jenna said. “She’s a very scrappy player, quick defender, I think she’s going to do awesome things at Oregon State.”

Kayla played at Century High School in Pocatello, where she was a two-time Idaho Gatorade Player of the Year and named to the Idaho State Journal team three times in her high school career.

Even though Jenna is facing her sister this weekend, it won’t stop her from staying focused on what’s ahead in Hawaii, as the team will face No. 18 Hawaii Friday and Wichita State Sunday.

“We’re really excited to go to Hawaii because of the great competition,” Jenna said. “It’s great to come out of the gates facing tough opponents. Not only will it push us to be better because it will probably set us at a higher standard for our play, but it’ll just bring that competitive edge and really just push us to the next level.”

Jenna said the team is focused on having good ball control. She said the Big Sky Conference has great ball control teams and having good ball control will help the Vandals build a solid, dynamic team.

Jenna characterized Idaho as a team of hard workers and is working to be quick on defense in a conference that has a fast swing.

“It gives our hitters a different perspective when they go up against maybe a little bigger blocks,” Jenna said. Both people that we play have good ball control. The Big Sky has good ball control, so it’s a little bit different style of play.”

Jenna hopes her team steps up to win the Big Sky Championship. Her personal goal is to maintain a solid passing percentage all season.

For now, Jenna said the team is focused on accomplishing short-term goals rather than the big picture at this time.

“This year we’re really emphasizing the process to get there,” Jenna said. “As that comes closer we’ll kind of see how our team is running, what it looks like, what teams are competing. But until then, we’re focusing on the process.”

Luis Torres can be reached at arg-sports@uidaho.edu

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