The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Mustang volleyball: fantastic four on court

Every team needs a leader, or leaders, to be successful. One sport that SMU students may not know much about that demonstrates leadership is the women’s volleyball team, say coaches and players.

Four young women, all of whom came to SMU as freshmen in 2008, are leading the team to one of its most successful years.  

Currently the team is 22-5 and has the highest Ratings Percentage Index in Mustang history.

“As a class unit they were the highest ranked starters their freshmen year,” said volleyball coach Lisa Seifert.

The team’s record in 2008 was 14-17, and in 2009, it was 19-12.  So far this year they have a tremendous turn around Seifert said.

As freshmen, the women were intimidated because they were competing against world-class seniors.  The women were committed, but they had some work to do.

In high school, the four women played a slower game.  They had a lot of room to grow physically to be able to keep up with the upper classmen on the other teams.

“This year I see more confidence, the more experience the girls have will make them successful,” Seifert said.

Here are their stories:


Born and raised in Plano, Texas, Jessica Oliver attended Prestonwood Christian Academy.  As a child, Jessica danced and participated in beauty pageants.   

She said she was influenced by her parents in the seventh grade to play volleyball.  They thought the sport would be a good mix between the sports they played; her mother played tennis and ran track, and her father played basketball.   

“When I started out I was very frustrated with the sport because it was very different than what I was used to.  I had to work at it,” Oliver said.    

Oliver continued to work at the sport, and she began to love it. Her parents have been very supportive and pushed her to work hard.  She said she sees them as her best friends.   However, when she came to SMU, Oliver got switched to a right side hitter, and she was not happy with the change.  

“I had to stick with it and not give up, and over the years I began to love it. Because I worked so hard that contributed to the ‘W’ [win],” she said.

Oliver said as an only child it was a hard transition for her to be able to work with other girls on a team. Over the past two years she was able to grow as a unit with the other three girls.

“It is like having three sisters; we really understand each other now,” Oliver said.  

Oliver is not only a great volleyball player, but she takes her education seriously. 

“Oliver is always concerned about her grades.  She works just as hard in the classroom as she does on the court,” Seifert said.  She is a double major in economics and English and wants to continue her education in law school to pursue sports law.


Kelli Becerra has lived in Austin, Texas all of her life and attended McNeil High School. Becerra started playing volleyball in seventh grade as a setter.

“I just loved it.  Volleyball was so natural for me,” Becerra said.  

Becerra started out not so well her freshman year.  She was young and very inexperienced.

“I knew I had a lot of growing to do mentally and physically, and over the past two years I have become stronger and developed a more accuracy of studying the game,” Becerra said.   

As of now, the four women are carrying their team, focusing on getting the program to the NCAA.   They came in together and became the core group of the team, and their hard work is really showing.   

“We are currently second in conference, and we have a good opportunity to go [to the championship]. This is something we want so badly before we graduate,” Becerra said.


Originally from Houston, Sidney Stewart started playing volleyball in seventh grade.  She went to Memorial Private High School, and it was the first sport she had an opportunity to play.   

“I tried out for the team, and I made it, ever since then I fell in love with the sport,” Stewart said.   

When Stewart first came to SMU she had to learn a completely different position.  This turned out to be a mental change in how she was going to approach the game and how she was going to contribute to her team.  

“I have grown and gained so much experience in my new position and that has given me the privilege to do everything in my best capabilities to help my team succeed,” Stewart said.  

Stewart‘s focus is to get the ball up and defend the court, so her teammates can put the ball away and score.  Her family and teammates motivate her the most.  

“My family has done so much to provide me with everything I have and given me the best opportunities, I just feel so grateful to have them,” Stewart said.   

They push her to be the best and help her grow as a player and a teammate.   

Sidney describes volleyball as her escape from the world. When she enters the gym all of her problems seem to go away.  

“It is just a place I can go to clear my mind and just have fun,” said Stewart.   

Over time, as a unit, Stewart said the women have learned a great deal about one another on and off the court. They have come to the point where they understand how the others work and how to play with each other.   

“I can really trust these girls with anything. They are not just my teammates they are my friends and my family.  I think we have a special dynamic many teams do not have,” she said.


Powell started playing volleyball in the fifth grade in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  She went to Cascia Hall Preparatory School.   

Her older sister influenced her because she played and Powell said she wanted to do everything her sister did.  In seventh grade she took the next step and got involved with club volleyball.  This is when she really began to love the sport.  

During her freshman year at SMU, she had to get used to the changes and how competitive volleyball is in college.

“Myself and the other three girls were starters and had set rolls even before the season started,” Powell said.  “It was a hard responsibility that we had to take on.”

The last three years she has been able to get out of her comfort zone and step up to be more of a leader.

“I have always been a quiet person, but I realized being vocal and leading made a big difference,” Powell said.

“Dana has grown so much as an athlete and teammate. I am proud that I get to share this winning opportunity with her and the rest of the girls,” Becerra said.

Powell was an honorable mention to All-America and named All- Region Team in her sophomore year.   Her passion for the sport has really come out and allowed her talents to contribute to the team.  

“We are a really competitive team this year,” she said. “We continue to work hard to lead us to success. Support from the student body would be awesome.


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