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Beilsmith building off weekly OVC honor
Only six games into the 2020 season, Tara Beilsmith, sophomore libero for the Redhawks, has totalled 109 digs. Compared to her 2019 freshman season, Beilsmith ended with a total of 649 digs, an all-time Southeast record for a single season.
Into the start of her sophomore season, Beilsmith is off to a terrific start. She has double-digit digs in each of the six games the team has played.
Part of Beilsmith’s success comes from her motivation to perform at high levels.
“I guess I secretly want praise for all the success I’ve had,” Beilsmith said. “Even in high school, my coaches never really gave me much praise for my hard work.”
Beilsmith was recently named the Ohio Valley Conference Co-defensive Player of the Week after an impressive performance against fellow conference opponent Eastern Kentucky. Beilsmith had 41 digs in the two games that led the Redhawks to two victories.
Beilsmith credits her success to her teammates and the way they push her to be a better player. Beilsmith said she is honored to receive co-defensive player of the week but won’t become complacent.
Recently, Beilsmith said she has experienced increased expectations and responsibilities from her coaches.
“Coach [Julie] Yankus expects me to be a vocal leader on the court,” Beilsmith said. “She wants me to pick up teammates and does not want excuses from me.”
Yankus had high praise for Beilsmith's play and credited her scrappiness and ability to read plays as a key to frustrating opponents.
“Tara covers hitters very well, brings energy and cheers on her teammates every game,” Yankus said. “Tara came in as a high recruit. She did excellent in high school, so her skills were there.”
Beilsmith said one drill that has positively impacted her defense this season is one that her coaches incorporated. They call the drill the “crazy drill.” It consists of tossing a ball that is difficult to run after; each defender is then responsible for keeping it from touching the ground.
Beilsmith and the Redhawks currently sit at 4-2. They are back in action Feb. 28 when they host SIUE at Houck Field House in Cape Girardeau.