The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday May 28th

SportSaturday: Buchholz Breaks From Hockey Tradition

Krista Buchholz comes from a family steeped in hockey tradition. Settled in the small town of Waupun, Wisc., the Buchholz family sent each of its three sons to play in Madison, where the game is revered.

Across town, one of Buchholz's female cousins made the same short journey to lace up skates for Wisconsin - it just seemed natural that if you were a Buchholz athlete you played hockey for the Badgers.

But Krista knew she wasn't going to follow the well-worn path of playing hockey at Wisconsin, and she knew it at an early age.

"My varsity coach picked me out of my sixth grade class and worked with me individually," said Buchholz, now a middle hitter on the North Carolina volleyball team. "I've always known I wanted to play volleyball and play at the collegiate level.

"I'm the black sheep of the family."

To make that transition from playing club volleyball in high school to playing at UNC, Buchholz had to make an exclusive commitment to volleyball.

"During my sophomore year my coach asked me how far I wanted to go with volleyball," Buchholz said. "He said I had the potential, but getting recruited from a small town like mine is hard, and the work I had to do was going to be tough."

She did the work, and the now-communications major landed in Chapel Hill, a distant and unfamiliar town.

No one from the tightly-knit Buchholz family had ever ventured so far from Waupun, especially to play volleyball.

"The transition was very hard," Buchholz said. "During the first semester I was the most homesick person in the world, but I made up my mind that this is where I wanted to go to school, and this is where I want to play volleyball."

The academic aspect of UNC came quickly for Buchholz, but playing time on the team did not.

Playing behind Shannon Smith, one of the best Tar Heel players ever, the 6-foot-1 Buchholz saw little action during her freshman and sophomore years. The time on the bench, however, didn't discourage Buchholz. Instead, it actually helped her.

"My teammates were very reassuring," Buchholz said. "It was nice to know that there were 12 people around me who had gone through the same thing, and I needed that transition time to work on my game."

Buchholz tallied 68 kills in her sophomore year, a dramatic improvement from the 11 she posted her freshman season.

With a secure position in hand this year, Buchholz has emerged as the team's top blocker and one of the ACC's best.

The junior currently has 94 blocks, posting 1.24 per game, which ranks second in the competitive ACC.

Her success doesn't come easily, however.

"I have a constant battle with my body every practice," Buchholz said. "You can never take it easy out there."

Not that she would.

UNC coach Joe Sagula cites Buchholz's work ethic as exemplary. From that hard work, Buchholz has helped to fill the voids in the UNC defense and created a positive atmosphere.

"She works really hard in practice and shows great work ethic," teammate Laura Greene said. "She has a tough job, but she is always there to do it, and do it positively."



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