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Hucke ready to put spike in heroes event

Thomas Ranson
lvnsports@yahoo.com
Former Fallon and Stanford star Jennifer Hucke celebrates the 2004 national championship.
LVN File Photo | LVN

Greenwave volleyball was slowly emerging onto the big stage when Jennifer Hucke entered high school.

After her first two years on Caryn Marshall’s team, everything started to click and Fallon proved that a small school can win a state championship against the bigger schools in Reno and Las Vegas. Not only did the Lady Wave win the school’s first state volleyball championship in 1999, they came back the following year stronger and repeated.

Hucke, who played club volleyball at Northern Nevada Juniors (formally known as Sierra Nevada Volleyball Club) and was a member on the country’s national volleyball teams, played four years at Stanford, helping the Cardinal win national championships in her freshman (2001) and senior (2004) seasons.

With those memories behind her and working full-time at Pacific Medical, Inc., Hucke, along with several of Fallon’s greatest high school athletes, will participate in this weekend’s Hometown Heroes event.

“It’s a really cool experience. It’s what I love about Fallon,” Hucke said about being invited to participate in the event. “It’s a small-town community. It’s going to be a great experience and it will be good to see people I haven’t in a long time.”

Standing above 6 feet, Hucke was one of the most feared hitters in the state during her time with the Greenwave. Her long extension and thundering strike echoed throughout the gym every night as the community packed the stands. Hucke earned nearly every award imaginable during high school, including pre-season All-American honors and the 1999 Nevada State Player of the Year award.

The school’s size didn’t matter to Hucke and her teammates as they silenced any doubters that state champs come from only Reno or Las Vegas.

“It was the small-town school from Fallon going against the big schools in Reno and Vegas,” she said. “We didn’t have the nicest uniforms or shoes. We played well together. We played well at the right time. Everyone really contributed; that was the main thing. We counted on each other to do their job.”

The same kind of feeling came back to Hucke as a senior at Stanford after the Cardinal had won a championship when she first arrived on campus. Stanford entered the 2004 national tournament as the No. 11 seed and stormed through the bracket, upending Minnesota to win the title and become (and is still) the lowest seed to capture a national title.

“We were underdogs by far,” Hucke recalled. “We were not even close to being undefeated. We came together when it counted at the end of the tournament.”

Hucke finished her career with a nine-kill performance against the Gophers and was named to the NCAA All-Tournament team as Stanford ended the year with a 15-match winning streak.

During the Cardinal’s opening tournament in Reno that season, Hucke and her parents invited the team to visit the family ranch outside of Fallon, which made for one of the best experiences during her time at Stanford.

“A lot of girls had never been on a ranch or seen cows before,” Hucke said.

Stanford left the Silver State with one loss in the tournament — to St. Mary’s — and was nearly upset by Nevada, which included two of Hucke’s former teammates — Tristin (Adams) Johnson and Carly (Sorensen) Sipherd. Stanford won the match, 3-2.

“They did so well at Nevada. It was a great experience playing against them,” Hucke said.

After receiving her degree in human biology, Hucke came back to her home state, first to Las Vegas and then moved back to Fallon recently and commutes to Carson City. Her work schedule prevents her from getting into coaching but she tries to help as much as possible, including helping donate braces and therapy devices to her former club team.

“I got burned out with volleyball a little bit,” said Hucke, who plans on attending Fallon volleyball matches this fall. “I’ve always been career driven. When the position came, it was hard to refuse. (Coaching) makes it hard with the commute. I’m definitely excited to watch some games next season.”