Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Redhawk Volleyball’s Tara Beilsmith wins OVC Defensive Player of the Year

Sunday, December 4, 2022
Redhawks senior libero Tara Beilsmith looks on at her opponents during a home match. Beilsmith won the 2022 OVC Defensive Player of the Year Award after posting a career-high in digs and digs per set.
Photo submitted by Tara Beilsmith.

Senior libero Tara Beilsmith became the first Redhawk to win Ohio Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year at the 2022 Postseason OVC Volleyball Awards. Beilsmith posted career highs in digs with 773 and digs per set with 5.90 on her way to winning the award. She broke her own single-season dig record this year and 5.90 digs per set is good enough for third in the NCAA.

“It’s been great to see her grow and improve over the years,” Head coach Julie Yankus said. “Each year it seems like she’s breaking the last year’s single-season dig record.”

Being the first Redhawk to win the award meant something special to Beilsmith. She has broken her own record for the Redhawks single season dig record every year since 2019 when she posted 641 digs.

Plenty of talented liberos have won the award. Beilsmith looked up to them and wanted it for herself as well. Winning the award solidifies herself in OVC history and she takes her place as one of the best liberos in Redhawks history.

“I’ve always wanted to be the best player that I can be so being the best libero in the OVC, I’ve always wanted to do that,” Beilsmith said. “I’ve seen so many great liberos over the past three years and I’ve looked up to them. It’s cool to step into their shoes a little bit.”

Beilsmith showed why she was the defensive anchor of the Redhawks when it mattered most. She posted 42 digs, her season high, in the OVC tournament against top-ranked UT Martin. Her efforts helped the Redhawks upset the Skyhawks and make it to the championship game.

“It was nice going into the tournament and having like this 180 and being able to beat a team that we lost to twice then beating a really tough team that won the regular season. So I think having a good response, it showed me what our team could do and can do,” Beilsmith said.

A leader on the court and in practice, Beilsmith has grown into one of the Redhawk's most trusted players. Her ability to keep the ball in the air allows the other five players to focus on winning points.

“She does a lot for everyone around us but there’s a lot of balls that Tara can get so I don’t have to worry about it as much,” Senior outside hitter Zoey Beasley said. “She’s an awesome leader, everyone on the court respects her. She does a lot of the dirty work that goes unnoticed most of the time.”

Beilsmith will be a key part of the Redhawks in the future. She will be looked at to keep up her defensive prowess in her fifth and final year as the Redhawks look to go to their fourth OVC Championship game in five years and win another championship.

“The bounce back at the end of the season is really going set the tone in the spring and into the end of the fall. I think coming up with the loss, we have something to fight for,” Beilsmith said.