ABBI BURNETT was a key cog in St. Joseph-Ogden volleyball’s 2016state runner-up finish. Now, she’s integral to Parkland reaching the NJCAA D-II national tournament. The hitter weighed in before the event, which concluded Saturday night with the Cobras placing second:
What was it like to be in your second nationals in as many years at Parkland?
It’s so exciting. I’m so thankful for my experience here, and Cliff (Hastings) as a coach and just the team I get to play with. The past two years has been incredible, and I’m just super thankful I get to play the game I love with these people, and I cannot be more excited to go to nationals with them.
Is that something you expected when you inked with Parkland out of SJ-O?
Well, coming into it I knew Parkland was good. But you don’t really understand it until you get there, so this is just what Parkland does. You go to nationals. At this point, it’s almost like an expectation, and if you don’t do it, it’s almost a disappointment. ... This far along and this many years going to nationals, you kind of have that pressure on your back, knowing you need to show up and execute.
What are some of the biggest adjustments from high school to college volleyball?
It’s different. High school’s just a bunch of girls that want to go out and play volleyball, and it’s good because it’s fun. And in college, it’s a bunch of girls that are here to play volleyball and it’s business. So it’s been different in that aspect, but I like that.
How have you seen yourself change?
I’ve grown so much since I’ve been at Parkland. Cliff is such a smart coach, and it’s funny going back to watch high school games now — there’s stuff I could’ve saw myself doing then that’s like, oh, my goodness, I would never do stuff like that anymore. I’ve just learned so much, from blocking to just mentally knowing what to expect.
What’s the team’s approach to this year’s national tournament?
A lot of 6-on-6 and individual work, just focusing on little things so that way when the time comes, we can hopefully execute them the way we’re supposed to.
What would it mean to end your Parkland volleyball career with a national title?
I have thought about that. It’s just crazy that this is my last time playing volleyball competitively, and I’m so thankful I get to play it with this team and this program. Hopefully just going to go out with a bang.
Were you able to follow along as SJ-O placed third at state earlier this month?
Yes, I was. I got to make it to a few games. ... I’m super excited for them. I’m glad they all got to experience that.