Even with a delayed start to the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, former Plainfield Central standout Taylor Landfair has hit the ground running as a freshman on the University of Minnesota women’s volleyball team.
Landfair earned Big Ten Conference Freshman of the Week honors after just her second week of college competition. She recorded a team-best 20 kills and averaged 3.33 kills per set in a pair of wins over Maryland last month.
The No. 6 Golden Gophers are also 6-0 to start the season in a loaded conference.
For Landfair, she said her transition to the college game has been a lot smoother than she might have anticipated. She said she’s been able to build strong relationships with her coaches and older teammates which have helped her develop her game and contribute as a freshman.
“There are so many people on the court that are really, really good,” she said of her teammates.
Still, Landfair has proven herself with 31 kills and seven blocks in her first four games. Then last Saturday, she had a career-best 17 kills in a win over No. 13 Purdue.
Former Plainfield Central head coach Erik Vogt said he knew Landfair was prepared for success at the college level with her ability to play the front row “better than almost anybody else,” though even he’s been impressed with how well she’s started.
“To put up the numbers she’s putting up is kind of astonishing,” Vogt said.
He added that Landfair’s experience playing on Sports Performance Volleyball Club in high school against some of the “best competition in the club world” prepared her well.
During her time at Plainfield Central, Landfair was named Herald-News player of the year in 2018 and shared the award in 2019, while making the all-area team all four years of her career.
She also won recognition as an Under Armour First Team All-American by the American Volleyball Coaches Association and won the 2018 Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year, to name just some of her accomplishments.
Landfair said she benefitted from extra time to prepare for the season as the pandemic forced many collegiate sports to start late. Even attending many of her college classes virtually has provided more flexibility in her schedule.
With the start of volleyball season delayed, she said she put in nearly a year’s worth of practicing and strength training to get ready for actually competing.
While Landfair admitted that following health protocols like daily testing and limiting her social circle has been challenging, she was eager to finally start live competition last month.
She said she spent much of the preparation time prior to the season changing old habits in her game to improve her passing and arm swing when she hits.
For instance, she’s worked to adjust her stance when passing to help angle the ball better toward the setter. While Landfair said it took her some time to make those changes, her work has paid dividends so far in her young collegiate career.
“I’ve put in all these hours,” Landfair said and added her early success has “shown me that all this work has paid off.”
As for her team, an undefeated start isn’t enough for Landfair. She said the Golden Gophers have their sights set on reaching the Final Four later this season.
Vogt said he’s “very excited” to see Landfair’s college career get off to such a hot start. While he described her as a “very humble” person, he said he knows she’s been doing what’s necessary to continue her success at Minnesota.
“Everything Taylor is getting,” he said, “she put in the work to get it.”
Source: The Daily Chronicle