Sopho­more vol­ley­ball player Janelle Tucker inspires con­fi­dence in her team­mates through pos­i­tive reinforcement—both on and off the court.

I have a ‘you got it next time’ atti­tude,” says Tucker, who tries to ensure her team­mates don’t get down on them­selves when they make a mis­take. “I want to make sure everyone is com­fort­able and in a zone where we can all play together.”

The new pack of Huskies has reason to believe in the 5-​​foot 9-​​inch out­side hitter. Last year, Tucker was one of the Colo­nial Ath­letic Asso­ci­a­tion (CAA) conference’s Rookies of the Year. In 30 matches, she ranked second on the team in kills (348), digs (320) and ser­vice aces (24), including a career-​​high 22 kills and 23 digs in last season’s con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship loss.

Tucker—who says team suc­cess takes prece­dence over indi­vidual statistics—thinks this year’s squad has the talent to reach the National Col­le­giate Ath­letic Asso­ci­a­tion tournament.

She rel­ishes the oppor­tu­nity to com­pete in such high-​​stakes matches. “The ner­vous­ness gets me really excited, and I play with more emo­tion and energy,” she says. “I get really pumped up with every point.”

Tucker’s com­pet­i­tive nature is in her genes. The Encino, Calif., native grew up in a family of athletes.

Her dad, for example, played high-​​school hockey; her mom ran track. Her older brother played foot­ball for Ship­pens­burg Uni­ver­sity, in Penn­syl­vania. Her younger sister plans to follow in big sis’s foot­steps and join a col­le­giate vol­ley­ball team next year.

After Tucker grad­u­ates in 2015, the psy­chology major would like to play pro­fes­sional vol­ley­ball in Spain or Greece for a couple of years, then become a sports psy­chol­o­gist or a vol­ley­ball coach.

This summer, Tucker men­tored the North­eastern club’s three incoming freshmen and one transfer stu­dent. She also coached the 16-​​year-​​old Southern Cal­i­fornia Vol­ley­ball Club team.

Coaching would be really fun,” Tucker says. “I’m always around vol­ley­ball. It’s def­i­nitely a huge part of my life.”