Vickie Rouse was a volleyball powerhouse for Pitman High during her time on the court for the Pride. After leading her team to a Central California Conference championship her senior year and earning CCC player of the year with 178 kills, 77 blocks, and 66 assists along the way, it was no surprise when UC Merced came calling and offered her a chance to play for the Bobcats in 2012.
Rouse was surprised upon arriving at UC Merced, however, as she was quickly switched from middle to outside hitter. Though the change was unexpected, Rouse was able to adapt and she was soon back to her successful ways on the court, notching 159 kills, 16 aces, 161 digs, 24 blocks, and 192.5 points through 26 matches and helping the Bobcats advance into the post-season.
“The first season was nice because we were pretty much all new players. It was up to us to build the team,” Rouse said. “I had to really work hard on becoming an outside hitter.”
But what would have normally been a stellar freshman season for Rouse was doused with misfortune in the form of a torn ACL. She had sprained, and even broke, ankles in the past but had never experienced an injury as severe.
Rouse spent her offseason and the first half of her sophomore year rehabilitating her knee as she endured physical therapy twice a week along with daily work outs with her trainer. It was a tough road back to the court, but there was also ample motivation for Rouse to draw from as she worked to get back to dominate form.
“The love of the game and not wanting to disappoint my coach or my teammates really motivated me to get back out there,” Rouse said. “My coach recruited me for a reason and I didn’t want to disappoint him or anything, so I worked really hard.”
Rouse managed to return in time to compete in 10 matches for her Bobcats and finished the season with 17 kills and 38 digs. While she was back competing, Rouse’s role was diminished as she was only able to play in the back row, effectively taking away what had been her biggest asset — her ability to hit the ball.
“When I played solely back row, it was tough,” Rouse said. “It’s more defensive; I had to read the hitters on the other side and definitely had to know what I was doing.”
The Bobcats didn’t return to the post-season in 2013 and posted a 13-13 overall record while finishing 5-7 in the California Pacific Conference. Now, with the official start of the 2014 season mere months away, Rouse has her sights set on not only returning to full form as a player, but on a return to the post-season for her team as well.
“My knee is good again, but I definitely want to just get stronger and more prepared for the season so that I’m not lacking at all when we get back,” Rouse said. “I’m definitely going to be playing front row again.”
“I want to keep growing and becoming better than I was the past two season. I want to show my coach and everyone else that I can still hold my own in the front row,” she added.