Oct. 16, 2003
by Brian Betz,
The Santa Clara
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - In her fourth season with the women's volleyball squad, senior middle blocker Becky Biniek has enjoyed the program's rise from unranked to top 15 and consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances over the past two seasons. The veteran of the 11-5 team stole away from the court for a few minutes to chat with Sports Editor Brian Betz about everything from the team's aspirations to get past the first round of the Tournament this year, to the youth of the squad, and even, yes, her longtime allegiance to the San Francisco Giants.
BB: OK, evaluate the team's performance for me to this point. Are you happy with the 11-5 record?
Biniek: We're happy with where we are now, but we didn't think it would take this long to get into a flow. It was a matter of our team coming together to figure out different parts to make it flow.
BB: What do you mean by that?
Biniek: We were having a difficult time with serve-receive passing and when you don't have the pass go right to the setter, it's not as easy to run a fast offense, and I think with our quickness, our offense is usually how we beat a lot of teams.
BB: What's it like being one of only three seniors on the team?
Biniek: I was looking forward to it for a long time. Becky [Potter], Kelli [Sousa] and I, we've gotten to become really good friends and now especially since this year, with Jac [Heler] getting hurt, we don't have any juniors so we're the only upperclassmen.
BB: Does the inexperience of having 10 underclassmen make it tougher this season?
Biniek: Our sophomores have done a good job of making the transition into their second year. In my case, you think you worked hard in high school, but you don't really know how it is until you've been here for a year and have been overwhelmed. If you look, there's always three sophomores on the court at all times.
BB: This might just be me not knowing enough about the league, but do you think that it'll be a two-horse race again between you and Pepperdine?
Biniek: It'll be a lot more than that. Last week USF was in the top 25 for the first time at least since I've been here. There are five WCC teams in the top 25. It sounds like the top four pushing for it all are Pepperdine, us, then USD, Loyola [Marymount], but then San Francisco and Saint Mary's are right there.
BB: Although everyone always seems to say "we take each game one at a time," do you look forward to the Pepperdine game for redemption from last season?
Biniek: They've been pretty steady ranked sixth up until now, and we were real close down there last year. We took them to five games and lost like 15-13. So we do focus on every match but I think that it is definitely in the back of everyone's mind.
BB: Do you think the team has as much potential this year as it did last year?
Biniek: The potential is definitely there. It was a big loss losing Jac, in only our second week of play. She broke her leg against Arizona. We've had some nagging injuries, and it takes a while for the team to gel back together, but I think the potential is there.
BB: Do you have any pregame rituals, superstitions, or anything?
Biniek: Two years ago we did this pop dance to 'N SYNC and then last year we thought there should be something new so we did one from the Backstreet Boys. This year we we're going on a road trip and we took this song, "the Booty Song" and we've listened to that before the past couple matches and it's gone well.
BB: So you always wear an orange and black scrunchy during matches because you're such a huge San Francisco Giants fan. How long have you been a fan?
Biniek: The Giants have been a part of my life since I was young. My family, my grandpa and I, always used to watch the games together. But I really realized I liked them when Pac Bell opened my senior year in high school.
BB: What's your fondest memory?
Biniek: When I was 7 I went to a playoff game against the Cubs and I caught a foul ball.
BB: Do you know who hit it?
Biniek: I'm pretty sure it was Ryne Sandberg.
BB: So was it pretty rough this year as a Giants faithful?
Biniek: I was really, really bummed. Saturday, I got to hear the end, but our hotel didn't have ESPN2, so I was just sitting there, staring at the radio.
BB: Yeah, I had them in the World Series. Getting back to music, Kelli [Sousa] was saying that you've been known to frequently overplay songs.
Biniek: Kelli will come to practice with a new CD of music that's just becoming popular. I usually like most of it, but I'll usually pick a song I like, and so she'll make me a CD, and instead of listening to the whole CD I'll listen to one or two songs that I like and just ruin them very quickly.
BB: Just beat 'em to death. That's funny. Do you have any career plans after graduation?
Biniek: Next summer I'm hoping to go to Europe. And then, ideally, I don't know if I would start working for the Giants but I would want to work in their marketing department.