Former South Meck star Wiker makes national volleyball team

by C. Jemal Horton

Virginia Tech’s Jennifer Wiker, a 2008 South Mecklenburg High graduate, recently was named to USA Volleyball’s National A2 Team.

When Jennifer Wiker left South Mecklenburg High School for college four summers ago, she was confident she would excel in the Virginia Tech classrooms. The fact that she was a member of three different honor societies gave credence to that belief.

What Wiker didn’t know was how well she would fair on the volleyball court, even though she left South Meck with a handful of state records and South Charlotte Weekly’s 2008 Player of the Year award.

“I didn’t feel I’d really be able to contribute to a big, Division I program,” said Wiker, who redshirted her freshman year of college. “I was 17 when I left for college and very underdeveloped.”

But as it turned out, Wiker wound up having the best of both worlds at Virginia Tech.

Wiker earned her finance degree in three years, with a 3.49 GPA no less, and will leave the Blacksburg, Va., school next spring with an MBA. And last month, she reached the pinnacle for college volleyball players, earning a coveted spot on USA Volleyball’s National A2 Team.

Wiker, a 6-foot-3 outside hitter, was one of 48 players chosen, along with Huntersville’s Chaniel Nelson, who attends North Carolina.

“This is probably the most exciting news I’ve gotten in my volleyball career,” Wiker said during a telephone interview. “I was able to set some state records in high school, and we were able to win some big games at South Meck. But to be playing with the best 48 girls in the nation, I just feel honored to be a part of that.”

The 2012 U.S. National A2 Team was selected through the U.S. Women’s National Team Open Tryouts in Colorado. Athletes with college eligibility remaining for the 2012 season not selected to join the U.S. Women’s National Team were eligible for the U.S. A2 program.

Wiker said the tryouts, featuring a record 207 athletes, were intense, two-hour sessions over three days.

“It was tough, but I did well,” she said. “I really wanted to see how I stacked up against all those 6-5 and 6-6 girls from California and other places.”

Training for the team begins June 26 in Columbus, Ohio, with matches held June 30 to July 4 during the USA Volleyball Girls’ Junior National Championships in that city. During the training sessions, players will be divided into four teams that will play one match per day during the GJNC.

Wiker, who ranked second for the Hokies last season with 320 kills, is grateful for the position she’s earned and hopes to use it to propel her play in the upcoming season.

“Last year was the best year I’ve ever played, but I’m expecting next year to be even better,” she said. “Hopefully, I can make honorable mention all-America or all-ACC.

“I think it’s possible. I never expected to be where I am today. I never expected to excel this quickly or this much.

“But it feels really good.”

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