Bruzdzinski just racks up big numbers, no hoopla required

  • Katie Bruzdzinski, a Naperville North graduate, now owns the University of Michigan's all-time kills record in women's volleyball.

    Katie Bruzdzinski, a Naperville North graduate, now owns the University of Michigan's all-time kills record in women's volleyball. Photo courtesy of University of Michigan

Published10/12/2007 12:13 AM

Katie Bruzdzinski departed Naperville North as the school's all-time leader in kills with 1,334 and arrived at the University of Michigan ready to test her talent in big-time Division I women's volleyball.

Four years later, Bruzdzinski is still terminating like Arnold Schwarzenegger.


Bruzdzinski broke Michigan's record for career kills Sunday in Ann Arbor. The senior unloaded a match-high 11 in a 30-24, 30-19, 30-22 victory over Northwestern to run her career total to 1,570, which surpassed the old mark of 1,562 established by Jen Gandolph from 2001-04.

"It was pretty exciting," Bruzdzinski said.

The former Huskie tied and broke the Wolverines record on back-to-back points with her parents, Mary and Joe, in the Cliff Keen Arena crowd and a Big Ten Network TV audience watching. She was interviewed on the telecast and received a call from her older brother, Joe, back home and a text message from her younger cousin, Annie Gray, in Des Moines, Iowa.

That was about the extent of the celebration. The match wasn't stopped to honor her (her record was announced afterward) and she didn't receive anything, not even the game ball, to mark the occasion.

Somehow, though, that seemed perfect for the consummate team player.

"Our team is actually doing really well right now, so that's exciting, but records aren't really that important," Bruzdzinski said. "I mean it's cool, but I don't think that it would happen without everyone else on the team, too. If they're not playing well then that doesn't even happen."

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Of course, Bruzdzinski does more than simply stand on the court with her teammates and swing. While she stands a respectable 6 feet, she's not overly tall for an outside hitter in college.

"I'd say I'm probably one of the smaller outsides in the Big Ten," Bruzdzinski said. "I'd say most girls are over 6-feet tall. I'm not one of the biggest players, so I'm not the type of player who's going to get up and just pound the ball."

Then how does she land so many kills?

Bruzdzinski hits a variety of shots to make up for a lack of dominating height. She's like a pitcher who has to mix it up in lieu of an overpowering fastball.

Her secret weapon is her vision.

"I think I'm able to see the court really well," Bruzdzinski said. "I think that helps me because I'm not going to get up and hit over a big block. Being able to see the whole court works to my advantage. Then I can hit my shots. And also Lexi (Zimmerman) has been doing a great job, too. It's been nice having her set."


There's more to Bruzdzinski than her killer attack. Just like she was in high school, she's a terrific all-around player in college. In Michigan history she's third in aces with 155 and ninth in digs with 971.

Bruzdzinski helped the Wolverines match their best-ever start at 13-0 this season. They're 15-3 overall and 3-3 in the Big Ten with a No. 15 national ranking. She believes her club can enjoy an extended run in the NCAA Tournament.

"I think this team this year is probably the best that we've had since I've been here," Bruzdzinski said.

What's it like playing volleyball at a school so known for its football?

"It's actually been kind of funny this year because the whole Appalachian State thing happened and then we'd go and play teams and they would be chanting stuff at us about Appalachian State," Bruzdzinski said. "We're like, 'Uh, that has nothing to do with us, OK?' "

Bruzdzinski is on target to graduate in the spring. She's a general studies major, giving an indication to what she wants to do after college.

"I don't know," she said with a laugh. "I have no idea. Everyone asks me that and I really don't know."

But Bruzdzinski sure knows how to kill a volleyball. And she has at least 14 more matches to extend her record.

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