LONGMONT -- As tough and free-scoring an outside hitter as there is, Becca Mau's contribution to the Longmont volleyball team last year was limited to her position's ball-striking reputation.
A dominant spiker as a sophomore, Mau developed into a versatile player and a commanding leader her junior season. Stepping into a leadership role for the Trojans, Mau's all-around effort and stalwart example this fall have earned her the title of BoCoPreps.com Volleyball Player of the Year.
"That definitely made it an exciting, new experience for me," she said of her junior transformation. "It's nice to provide that stability and be one of the few people that's always there. It's a bonus to always be there and back everyone up and be a leader on and off the court."
Tenth in the state with a .320 hitting percentage, Mau led the Trojans in kills (346), attempts (775), digs (387) and aces (52). Recruited by half a dozen Division-I programs, Mau verbally committed recently to the University of Idaho.
On a team with just one senior, Mau stepped into a leadership role as a junior. Being one of the few players to play the entirety of nearly every match, Mau also had to take charge on the court while the Trojans battled the pressure of an undefeated season.
Unbeaten until losing to Class 5A opponent Eaglecrest on Oct. 27, the Trojans' perfect record lasted 22 matches. They won 18 matches without dropping a set.
"I think we kept the mentality that, even though we were winning, our goal was still to make it to state," Mau said.
As promising as it began, the end to the Trojans' season was equally deflating.
The Trojans were stunned by Coronado 17-25, 20-25, 25-20, 33-31, 15-13 in their final pool play match and missed the semifinals for the second straight season. Mau had 29 kills in the match.
"That was such a shock to all of us," Mau said. "I didn't even cry because I was just in total shock. That should not have happened. That's become the goal for next year, for me and all of the team, that is not going to happen again."
Returning the bulk of the roster, Mau said the team's mentality in practice needs to be more serious and the Trojans need to remain focused on their end goal in 2013. She said returning with the mental experience gained from a heartbreaking loss will help the Trojans to do that.
Mau said she needed help from her teammates to win the player of the year award. And she'll need it again in 2013 if she and the Trojans hope to break into the final four at state.
"She really gives herself to the game to learn as much as she can," Longmont coach Holli Stetson said. "She works to take her game to the next level, which is in turn going to help her teammates. Having someone on the team who is your best player but doesn't settle for that really makes everyone else strive to get better, as well."
Stetson said Mau changed her serve, which was already solid, and worked on her ball control this season.
Mau, who plays for Colorado Juniors Volleyball Club in Monument during the offseason, is no stranger to big games on big stages. Entering her 10th year as Trojans head coach, Stetson said she and the team have high expectations for Mau as she enters her senior season in 2013.
But perhaps no one has higher expectations for Mau than herself.
"We talked right after the game this year and she told me she's already committed to doing whatever it takes to make sure we make it to the finals next year," Stetson said. "She just looked at me and told me she is willing to do whatever needs to be done. That's just what she brings to the gym that raises the level of everyone else."
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