OVC's Shortest Player Provides Spark for Redhawks
Aug. 22, 2007
Story by Marty Mishow, Southeast Missourian
CAPE GIRADEAU, Mo. - Molly Davis, the shortest volleyball player in the Ohio Valley Conference, admitted with a smile Tuesday that she's not quite as tall as advertised.
"I'm 5-1 1/2, but I go by 5-2," said the Southeast Missouri State sophomore during media day at Houck Field House. "It's what I am with my shoes on, and it sounds better."
No matter what the Southeast roster lists her height as being -- for the record, it is 5-foot-2 -- the upbeat Davis has certainly made her mark in just one year with the Redhawks.
Not only has Davis infused the program with her boundless energy and enthusiasm, she also had a strong freshman season as Southeast's defensive specialist from the libero position.
Davis, a native of Muncie, Ind., ranked eighth in the OVC in digs per game last season and finished with 540. That is Southeast's second-highest single-season total on the Division I level, and ranks among the top 10 on the program's all-time list.
"I didn't know that," Davis said, smiling again. "That's great."
Davis always seems to be smiling, which begs the question of whether she ever has a bad day. She admitted she does -- just not very often.
"Everybody has their down time," she said. "But I always have so much fun, and I try to bring a lot of energy. I think it helps your game so much."
Especially when you're of a size that might have caused some athletes to give up on their dream of playing Division I college volleyball.
But not Davis, who also competed in basketball and track at Burris High School.
"Our school was pretty small, so I could play a lot of sports," Davis said.
It was volleyball that she chose to pursue on the next level -- and her lack of size wasn't about to deter her.
"Playing Division I, that was always a goal since the start of high school," Davis said. "It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.
"You don't have to be that big. You can bring so many other things to the team."
Davis certainly made a believer out of Southeast coach Renata Nowacki, who had no qualms about recruiting a player standing barely 5 feet.
"Her size isn't an issue," Nowacki said. "She's as feisty as any 6-5 girl out there."
But it is more than Davis' volleyball skills that impress Nowacki.
"She is a joy to coach," Nowacki said. "She's always on fire. That's what we look for from the libero position. We need her energy."
Davis' teammates say they feed off her energy and enthusiasm, not to mention her countless dives and slides across the court in search of digs.
"She works really hard and gets a lot of balls up," said senior Brenna Schlader, Southeast's top returnee in kills. "She's a little ball of energy."
While some volleyball players thrive on thundering spikes, intimidating blocks or pinpoint assists, Davis is more than content in her unglorified role of defensive specialist.
"I love defense," she said. "I've always played it. It was my passion even in high school."
Another of her passions is apparently academics, because Davis has built up quite a resume in the classroom.
Davis graduated from high school with a perfect 4.0 grade-point average.
That mark has not taken a hit in college. She was recently among 18 Southeast athletes to claim OVC medals of honor for having a perfect 4.0 GPA last school year.
"It's important to be a student-athlete," Davis said.
What's also important to Davis is helping the Redhawks have a successful season.
Southeast was inconsistent last year, going 16-18 and tying for sixth in the OVC, but the Redhawks advanced to the conference tournament championship match before losing.
"The way we came on strong last year, it gave us a lot of momentum and we're really excited to get the OVC started," Davis said. "We're ready to do great things."
While the Redhawks have their sights set on faring well in the OVC, they get the season started this weekend with three non-conference matches at the Ball State tournament.
Ball State is located in Muncie, Ind. -- Davis' hometown.
"I am so excited. I've told like the whole town about it," Davis said, flashing her trademark smile. "Everybody I know will be there."
The energy in Ball State's Worthen Arena will no doubt be off the charts.