Click here for COVID-19 updates affecting the campus community

Freshman middle blocker uses athleticism to overcome inexperience

Freshman middle blocker Jayla Wesley stares across the net during the game against NIU on Friday, Sept 30 at McGuirk Arena.

For freshman middle blocker Jayla Wesley, her transition from high school to collegiate volleyball was a nerve-racking one.

“It’s so much different,” Wesley said. “The pace is faster and the crowds are bigger. Everything is different. I get overwhelmed at times, but that doesn’t change the fact that my teammates have (my back).”

Since her debut in late August, the 6-foot-1 West Bloomfield native has played in 81 sets and recorded 100 kills on the season. Her 64 blocks is the second most by any Chippewa this year.

“When Jayla is involved, we tend to have success,” said head volleyball coach Mike Gawlik. “When Jayla’s effective with our offense and when we can get her going, we typically get better looks for everyone.”

Wesley’s 100 kills this season is the most kills by a CMU freshman in two years — since junior Jordan Bueter’s and junior Taylor Robertson’s freshman years.

Her blocking skills are some of the best in the Mid-American Conference, and her 64 blocks make her the third best freshman in the conference.

“She’s doing everything she can and she works hard,” Gawlik said. “At times she’s a little bit overwhelmed, but with the heath of our group, she’s got to be out there and make sure she’s constantly learning.”

More than volleyball

Prior to attending CMU to play volleyball, Wesley was also a standout track and field athlete at Walled Lake Central High School.

Wesley was All-State on three separate occasions in the 4x200 relay, 4x400 relay and the high jump. Her jump of 5-feet-4-inches at the 2016 MHSAA state finals placed her third.

“My track coach wanted to get me into looking at schools for track, but volleyball was what I wanted to go to school for,” Wesley said. “I still love (track and field). It was a really good thing for me to have both volleyball and track.”

While she has given the thought of playing both sports, she said it might have to wait until later in her collegiate career.

“I was thinking after my four years are up here, during my fifth year I would do a little track work,” Wesley said.