The name Taylor Bannister should be a name on every SEC team's radar, and, after the first 6 games of the season, players around the league have no choice but to notice her offensive play.
Coming into the 2018 season, sophomore Bannister was voted on the preseason All-SEC team, and she has lived up to all the hype thus far.
Even though the Tigers (2-4) have started off slow, they can thank Bannister for giving the offense the edge they need.
Bannister has led the Tigers in kills in all six matches and is doing so while adjusting to a new position, but this has not slowed her down. Going from the right side of the offense to outside hitter requires a strong mind and even stronger arm because outside hitter is the target of most of the sets throughout the match. Bannister is taking every extra set in stride.
“I am still learning and trying to find the correct timing,” Bannister said. “At the same time, I am also looking for chemistry from the setters around me.”
Bannister makes the transition look seamless as she kills the ball at an impressive rate. For all of Bannister’s talents, it does not come without pressure, but she looks forward to that challenge.
“My biggest fear is that someone is watching film and thinks that I'm not as good as last year because I changed positions,” Bannister said. “I want to show that I can play from both sides and be a dominating force.”
Bannister delivers that domination for the Tigers throughout the first six games and shows no signs of slowing down.
As the pressure comes for Bannister, she tries to be more forceful on the court, but her routine off the court remains constant.
“I prepare the same way as I did last year,” Bannister said. “The only thing that's different is my mindset. I have to prepare myself to jump at different speeds on the outside than I had to on the right side.”
The sophomore acknowledges how much help she has received from her coaches, especially Sarah Rumely, and how they have contributed to her success.
“Coach Rumely usually comes at offense from a setter’s perspective,” Bannister said. “She knows where the setters need to be and where the ball needs to be hit, which helps them set me up for kills.”
Rumely has been preaching all year about the ability for the Tigers to get high above the net and hit hard, and Taylor Bannister is the embodiment of that for LSU.
As the team continues into the season, they will be looking for Bannister to keep the offense at its peak with kills from the outside.
When asked how she was going to continue to bury the ball against each new opponent, Bannister had a simple answer.
“I am just hitting to hit,” Bannister said. “I would sometimes see forehands and hit towards those, but honestly, I just hit to hit.”