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Serving the competition

Bueter, who's serves are faster than 50 mph, leads Chippewas as sophomore

South Bend, Indiana sophomore Jordan Bueter prepares to spike the ball against Nebraska-Omaha at McGuirk Arena on September 19, 2015. Mary Lewandowski | Staff Photographer

As Jordan Bueter sits at her locker before each match, “Two Step” by Dave Matthews Band plays through her headphones.

The star outside hitter says the song relaxes her. Once the headphones are out, she’s ready to step onto the court.

“(The song) reminds me of a concert I went to,” Bueter said. “The headphones block out all of the noise and puts me in the zone.”

In her sophomore season on Central Michigan University’s volleyball team, Bueter has become an essential part of the Chippewa program.

“She’s a tougher player (than last year),” said Head Coach Erik Olson. “She’s more consistent. She had some weaknesses in (the first) weekend, and she’s firmed those up real well in the last two weekends.”

Bueter’s offensive contribution has increased this year as she leads the Chippewas with 163 kills, 15 more than she had at this time last season.

Olson said he knew Bueter was a special player from the moment he began to recruit her.

“When I recruited Jordan, she was playing in an 18-year-old open league in high school as a freshman,” Olson said. “She knows how to (handle expectations).”

Aside from her ability to rack up the kills, her serving is what makes Olson believe Bueter is one of the most talented players in the entire Mid-American Conference.

“She has the best serve I’ve ever seen in MAC play,” Olson said. “And that’s what I’ve been saying since she got here.”

Olson said the average speed of Bueter’s serves are faster than 50 mph, and are more effective than former All-MAC performer Kaitlyn McIntyre.

“At any level, that’s pretty darn fast,” he said. “But she does have to learn how to control it. I want her to own it more.”

Olson said because of the high speed of Bueter’s serve, opposing players don’t have much time to react.

“The speed of it makes it so fast, that if (the opponent) second guesses it at all, the ball is going to be passed off the net,” he said. “You have to decide in about less than two-tenths of a second what you’re going to do, so that’s what makes it good.”

However, Olson said Bueter’s serving method is risky.

“It’s a high-risk serve, so sometimes she’s going to miss big, and then other times she’s going to kick the crud out of some teams too,” he said.

Before she serves, Bueter exhales slowly, takes three steps forward, tosses the volleyball two feet over her head, jumps and smashes it over the net. During this process, her mind is completely clear.

“Nothing can go through my mind,” she said. “If it does, then I overthink too much.”

This serving technique helped the 6-foot South Bend, Indiana native lead the team in serving aces last season with 26. Bueter is leading the team again with 16 aces in 2015, nearly twice as many as the next closest Chippewa.

“Going into matches, I tell her ‘You’ve got the green light, you just go,’” Olson said. “Everyone else has serving rules, and intensity levels, but she has to just go.”

Carrying the offense for a team where 11 of its 15 players are underclassmen is no small feat, but Bueter said she doesn’t feel any added pressure.

“Our entire team has risen to what we want to accomplish this year,” she said. “It’s not necessarily just putting pressure on one person, everyone has a special role on the team. We’re all there to help each other.”

Freshman setter Marissa Grant formed a bond with Bueter even before the two stepped on the court as Chippewas.

“I’ve known her for a while now, and she’s just a great teammate,” Grant said. “She’s a very sweet person, and she likes to get down to the point and get things done, and I really like that. She pushes everybody, but at a good comfortable level, so she’s just a very helpful person.”

As any humble leader would, Bueter credits her fellow Chippewas with her growth as a player in such a short period of time.

“I have a different level of competitiveness,” Bueter said. “But I think that comes with the entire team. It’s a different atmosphere. Everyone meshes really well, and it’s just really fun to play here.”