Krista Haslag, a senior on the Missouri S&T volleyball team, knows a thing or two about competing. The 6-foot-1 senior from Linn, Missouri, racked up 18 kills over the weekend to become the university’s all-time leader in career kills with 1,257. (Erin Bekebrede, who played for the Miners from 2008-2011, held the previous record of 1,243 kills).
“I remember looking at my statistics last year and thinking that I am going to have to have a big season to reach that goal,” she says. “I just go out and play the best that I can every game so I can help my team win.”
Coach Jason Holt credits Haslag, Gracey Moon and Jackie Pyles, the team’s three co-captains, with providing the leadership and determination to help the team go undefeated at home – the first time a team has done so in the program’s history. The feat has helped earn the team a postseason spot for the fifth season in a row.
“Krista is one of our top players on the roster – not only this season, but in the history of our program,” says Holt, who started the volleyball program from scratch nine seasons ago. “She is one of the leading and most-feared hitters and blockers in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.”
Growing up, Haslag’s number one sport was basketball. In fact, it wasn’t until high school that she started playing volleyball competitively for the Central Missouri Volleyball Club.
“There’s no better feeling than getting a stuff block,” Haslag says. “A stuff block at a crucial time in a game is a huge momentum changer, and the excitement after a game-changing block is very unreal.”
The student-athlete, like her teammates, takes her coursework just as seriously. For the past six years, the volleyball team has earned Academic Team Honors from the American Volleyball Coaches Association for keeping a team GPA of 3.3 or higher. Recently, Haslag became the fourth player to earn College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District honors. It was the third time she has received the recognition.
“Academics has always been a huge part of my life and I wanted to go to a college that I knew would prepare me for the real world and leave me with a bright future,” says Haslag, the only senior who has been on the team for all four years. “I have always been a very hands-on kind of person, which led me to the engineering field.”
A double major in civil and architectural engineering, she says she chose the two majors because of an early interest in the skylines of cities.
“I was always fascinated with big cities,” Haslag says. “I grew up in such a small town, and I was not exposed to them very often. When I would go to St. Louis or Kansas City, my eyes would light up at the sight of all the skyscrapers. I always thought, ‘It would be awesome to design or construct such a work of art.’”
Haslag leads the team in hitting percentage and blocks. She’s also earned a number of honors – a first team All-GLVC selection, American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-Midwest Region honors and AVCA All-American honors.
“The one aspect that makes volleyball unique is the amount of control that is necessary to play it at the highest level,” Holt says. “Volleyball is the only ball, non-racket sport where the ball never comes to rest while in play. Because of this fact, being able to control the ball is critical and extremely difficult to do.”
S&T returns to action on Friday night when it travels to St. Louis to take on the University of Missouri-St. Louis at 7 p.m. at the Mark Twain Center.