Janna Krafka knew what some coaches were saying.
“When I was getting recruited, some of them said I was too small,” the Centerville High School graduate said. “That’s one thing that kind of fueled me and made me more competitive.”
Krafka is 5-foot-5 but has made an enormous impact on the Dayton Flyers volleyball team. She earned her second consecutive Atlantic 10 defensive player of the week honor Tuesday. And with 1,991 career digs, the defending A-10 libero of the year is 80 shy of becoming the program’s all-time leader. The record is 2,070.
“She is a tireless worker,” Dayton coach Tim Horsmon said. “She is so consistent in how she practices every day and how she plays. She is the best serve-receiver and the best libero I have ever coached.”
Krafka’s intensity and work ethic have helped the Flyers post their third undefeated A-10 season in the last six years and claim their 12th A-10 regular-season title. Dayton opens A-10 tournament play Saturday at George Washington University as the No. 1 seed. The tournament winner gains an automatic NCAA bid.
The Flyers play the George Washington-VCU winner at 5 p.m. Saturday.
Lunging and diving, on the court or off, Krafka frustrates opposing hitters.
“My mindset is that I’m going after every ball,” she said. “I’m going to give it my all and if that means diving into the bleachers that’s what I’ll do.”
Krafka’s love of the game started in the fourth grade playing CYO volleyball. She started playing club ball when she was 13 and vividly remembers being the same size as the rest of the players.
“The next year, everyone shot up, except me,” she said.
At 5-5, the Flyers senior knew outside hitter and middle hitter were not options, but she wasn’t about to give up volleyball. Libero was a perfect fit.
“Being short definitely narrowed it down,” she said, smiling.
The Flyers have had plenty to smile about. After a 0-4 start, they enter the weekend with a 23-5 record and the nation’s longest winning streak at 21.
“At 0-4, I think we were all thinking ‘uh-oh,’ ” Horsmon said. “I don’t think any of us were used to losing. But we recovered.”
Nailing down an NCAA tournament bid is this weekend’s priority.
“This is the moment we’ve been building toward,” Horsmon said. “It all comes down to this weekend.”