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Reserved hitter Jordan lets her play do talking

By SCOTT PURKS

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 19, 2000


TAMPA -- A Jenna Jordan spike is a bullet.

The ball comes from an intimidating height, then shoots almost straight down.

Man, it looks like it hurts.

Jordan is 6-foot-2, a leaper (has high-jumped 5-4), and swings with long, strong, quick arms.

"She has probably scared some opponents," Durant coach Teri Ohme said.

Jordan plays like a volleyball monster, but all that changes when you meet her.

She actually might be the most laid-back, unassuming All-Hillsborough County Player of the Year the Times has honored.

"It's just the way I am," Jordan said, shrugging. "I don't really let things get to me. I guess I don't show a lot of emotion."

She does, however, come to play.

Ohme calls her a "classic gamer. ... She is at her best when the match is on the line, and the more important the match, the better she is. Jenna gives the other players a lot of confidence because they know they can depend on her in tight spots. Get it to Jenna and she'll take care of business."

That goes for front or back row.

In past years, Jordan was almost an exclusive net player, but during last off-season she worked on her back-row game, digging and passing.

"(Ohme) said she wasn't sure I could play back row," Jordan said. "She said I might be too tall and not versatile enough. I took that as a challenge and worked extra on digging and making accurate passes."

Mission accomplished. This season Jordan finished third on her team with 103 digs.

Add that to 277 kills and 104 blocks and you have one of the more dominating performances in what could be called "The Year of the Junior."

The first- and second-team all-county selections feature eight juniors.

Right behind Jordan in the player of the year race were Tampa Prep's Justeen Patton and Amber Langston, who led the Terrapins to a regional final before bowing out of the playoffs.

Jordan, however, helped lead her team further than any Hillsborough County school -- to the Class 6A semifinal, a plateau that didn't satisfy.

"I really wanted to show everybody that this year's team was as good as last year's (Durant won the state title in 1999)," Jordan said. "I wanted to prove to everybody that we were just as good as the 1999 team.

"Maybe next year."

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