As freshmen moved into their dorms at the University of Oregon on Tuesday, Brooke Nuneviller already looked comfortable a few blocks away at Matthew Knight Arena.
The freshman libero from Chandler, Ariz., settled in on campus during the summer and will play her first Pac-12 Conference volleyball match against Oregon State on Thursday before most of her classmates have even seen a course syllabus.
“Seeing the new freshmen is always fun because you feel like you have been here a while,” Nuneviller said.
The 5-foot-11 Nuneviller, who ranks fourth in the Pac-12 with 151 digs, was named conference freshman of the week earlier this month after having 28 digs in a win over No. 1 Minnesota.
“It is great to have Brooke back there, she has been phenomenal,” senior outside hitter Lindsey Vander Weide said. “She really stepped up into the role she needs to fill. We need her to dig balls back there.”
Nuneviller played the past two summers for the USA Youth National Team and was a prep all-American while helping Corona del Sol High School win a state championship.
“The biggest change from high school to college is the amount of trust you have to have in your teammates,” she said. “Obviously, your skills have to improve a lot to be successful, but when you have to trust so much in your teammates and ask ‘Are they going to get the ball?’, you have to believe that they will. That has been a big change for me but it has been so easy to trust these girls.”
Nuneviller has had at least 12 digs in eight of 10 matches to rank as the only freshman in the top 10 in the conference in that category.
“I have gotten much more disciplined than I was before,” she said. “My mindset in high school was to just go get the ball. I didn’t have a lot to do with my form or the way I played, it was just to get the task done. I had to change that because the game is faster so I have to focus on those little things.”
The 12th-ranked Ducks (7-3) open conference play at 6 p.m. Thursday hosting Oregon State (10-2), which has won five straight matches. Oregon stays home Sunday to face No. 22 Washington State (9-1) at noon.
Seven Pac-12 teams are in the latest coaches poll with the Ducks trailing only second-ranked Stanford among Pac-12 teams. Oregon’s three losses came against top-five teams Texas, Nebraska and Penn State.
“I think the conference is really deep this year,” Oregon coach Matt Ulmer said. “Stanford, in my opinion, is the favorite to win the whole thing and then I think anybody else can beat you on any night. We did our best to schedule in the preseason really competitively so we would be prepared and we have seen all different styles of play, so nothing is going to catch us off guard. Now whether we play well or not is up to us, but at least we have seen it.”