Oct. 19, 2005
The phrase "Offense wins games, but defense wins championships" holds true in almost every sport, and volleyball is no exception. The Missouri volleyball team has several skilled attackers that can put points on the board, but it also has several players that can keep the opposing team from getting points, especially in key situations. One of those players is defensive specialist Abbie Booth.
A junior out of Kansas City, Booth secured a regular spot in the lineup for herself early in her sophomore season against Iowa State after playing in just five games as freshman. She averaged two digs per game that year and had four games with double-digit digs, including a career-high 19 against then-No. 15 Texas A&M, 12 on the road against No. 9 Texas, 13 against Kansas, and 10 against Texas Tech.
Booth played volleyball at Notre Dame de Sion High School in Kansas City, Mo. There she was named to the All-District Team three years in a row and selected to the Kansas City Star's All-Metro Team in 2002. She chose Mizzou over Purdue and TCU after coming here seeing what the Tiger volleyball program was all about. "I chose Mizzou over Purdue and TCU for a couple of reasons. I heard about the reputations of the coaches and the program and thought this would be a great place to play. I also chose it because it was closer to home."
Even though her main role is to keep the ball from hitting the floor, Booth began working on a new element of her game last year. Along with being an outstanding defensive player, she added a serve to her repertoire. After having a hard time with her serve early in the year, Booth kept working at it and ended the year with 13 aces, including two matches in which she recorded three. "Last year was actually my first year of trying, so I was still trying to get into the rhythm and the feeling of it. But this year I'm more comfortable and more experienced doing it, so I'm just trying to place it and put a little bit more hit on it." So far this year, she has already eclipsed last year's mark with 16, six of those coming in a match against Iowa State.
During her time at Mizzou, the Tiger volleyball team has always been one of the better teams in the country, usually holding a Top 25 spot. But this year, the Tigers moved in to the Top 10 early in the season. Booth has experienced success before with Notre Dame de Sion, winning the Class 3A Missouri State Championship in her junior year and making it the Class 4 State Finals in her senior year, and she knows that she can't let it become her or the team's focus. "We don't really focus on what we're ranked. We notice it and we acknowledge it, but we have nothing to lose. Every time we go out we say that we have nothing to lose." She knew what the team was capable of coming into the season after losing in the second round of NCAA's last year to Louisville. "We knew that we had the same core group of people. We knew that we could only get better. We just knew that if we kept working hard and playing together like we always do that we would go far."