On the rare occasion when Jennifer Purucker's game goes slightly awry, Greenbrier High School's volleyball squad doesn't suffer.
That's because the junior middle hitter competes at a high level even on a day when she's a little off.
"She has great athletic ability, but she's very smart," Wolfpack head coach Debbie Born said. "When she's failing physically, she'll outsmart you. That's her biggest asset."
Born said that Purucker was more timid in her play last season. The junior's mindset has changed a lot, though, in a year's time.
"I was a little bit nervous, at first, only being a sophomore," Purucker said of her 10th-grade year as a varsity player. "I was thinking, 'I don't want to mess up and make everyone mad at me.'
"But I got a lot more comfortable," she added. "The team really helped. We all get along really, really well."
In helping Greenbrier to a perfect Area 2-AAAA North record this season, Purucker has become one of Born's "go-to girls."
While patrolling the middle of the Wolfpack's front line, the 5-foot-9 Purucker has compiled 119 kills on the year.
She raises the level of her play in crunch time, and that is a big part of the reason her coach and her teammates have so much confidence in her.
"She's a very levelheaded person," teammate and fellow junior Hayley Hughes said of Purucker, one of her best friends on the team. "She doesn't panic at all. She does very well under pressure."
Purucker has 30 blocks and 43 aces. That last statistic is a testament to her work ethic, as she's worked hard at turning what was a weakness -- her serve -- into a potential strong point.
It's a dedication she shows in the classroom, too; she's made only one B during a high school career in which she's taken advanced placement courses.
Purucker also plays club volleyball with the CSRA Heat. She said it helped her to realize what she was getting into before facing off against solid high school competition.
"You see a lot of different competition during club," she said. "A lot of very hard competition."
Greenbrier missed out on making the Elite Eight last season after an appearance in that round the year before.
It's one team goal Purucker said the Wolfpack have set this season.
While she has one more high school season remaining after this one, Purucker has begun to consider the possibility of playing in college.
"I haven't really decided that, yet," she said. "But I'm kind of thinking about it. I haven't completely said no, and I'm looking into it."