Libero/defensive specialist McKay Tarbox (2) passes the ball during a match against Grand Canyon last season. Tarbox recorded 26 digs in the match.  (Source: Weber State Athletics)
Libero/defensive specialist McKay Tarbox (center) passes the ball during a match against Grand Canyon last season. Tarbox recorded 26 digs in the match.
(Source: Weber State Athletics)

The Weber State volleyball team kicks off its season this weekend as they compete in the Hawk’s Holiday Hullabaloo tournament hosted by University of Maryland-Eastern Shore. As the Wildcats enter this tournament, and this season, they will be looking to senior libero/defensive specialist McKay Tarbox for leadership.

“Since I started working as coach, McKay has been there working as hard, almost too hard, as she can to make the team great,” said volleyball coach Tom Peterson.

Just how hard of a worker is Tarbox?

During her freshman season, the Wildcats were playing a home game and during a set, Tarbox chased a ball way out of bounds. As she was heading out, she was going directly for a rack of chairs.

“My first thought was that she would miss it,” Peterson said. “But when she slid by it, that wasn’t the case.”

As Tarbox stood up, she tried to rush back into the game to keep the play going, but as she walked back onto the court, her leg buckled under due to the deep gash on her leg.

“It was a scary and amazing thing seeing a player so focused on giving her all that she was willing to keep going, even though her body couldn’t,” Peterson said. “And for McKay, that’s what frustrated her the most, the inability to keep playing.”

“I just thought I would simply slide under and keep playing,” Tarbox said. “When I stood up and couldn’t walk, I wasn’t happy with the fact that I couldn’t.”

In her career, she has played in 284 sets, appearing in every set for Weber State last year, and as a junior set the school record for the most digs in a single season (515). On her way to setting the school record, Tarbox recorded a 42-dig game against University of California-Riverside. Adding to that, 94 assists with 21 service aces in her junior year alone makes her one impressive player.

“She has grown to be one of our dependable players that the younger girls are really looking up to,” Peterson said. “And with there being only five seniors this year, that leadership is key to building the teamwork we need.”

But being the leader has not something that has come naturally for Tarbox.

“I really accredit my growth to having such good coaches,” she said. “They have helped . . . in my development as a player and as a person. Being a senior has helped me to mature even more. I know now that my attitude and work effort affects each and every one of the girls on the team, and inspires me to be my best for them.”

As she leads her team right now, it also is a chance for her to prepare these skills for a future career in physical education.

“I love the feeling of helping some younger player grow and develop, of giving back to the game,” Tarbox said. “It’s something that just can’t be beat.”

And her coaches agree.

“I think she will be amazing as a coach herself,” Peterson said. “Both on and off the court she has the ability to lead and inspire, it’s one of the things that make her great.”

As the Wildcats are on the road for the first month of the season, competing in several tournaments, Tarbox and her fellow players are excited for the opportunity to play together this season. Their first tournament will be in Maryland, and they open conference play on Sept. 25 when they host Montana at the Swenson Gym.

“I’m really excited for this season,” Tarbox said. “This is my last season and my last chance to give it my all on the court, and I plan to do just that.”

Charles can be found on twitter @cbowkstar_91 or cheering his heart out at any Wildcat game.

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