JEFF SCHORFHEIDE/Herald photoThe defensive specialist position for the No. 9 Wisconsin volleyball team has been a strength for several years now. With four upperclassmen — Jocelyn Wack, Amanda Berkley, Megan Mills, and Faye McCormick — on the squad, this year is no different.However, freshman Kim Kuzma has stepped right in and added to that strength.”[Kuzma] fits very well,” Berkley said. “Right away when she got here it was like she has been here for a couple of years already.”It is that rapport with the players already on the team that Kuzma cited as one of the reasons why she chose to come to Wisconsin to play volleyball.”When I came here it was the first school I visited, and I fell in love with the campus,” Kuzma said. “Then I got to play beach volleyball on my first unofficial visit with some of the players. They were all really nice and I just felt like I belonged here.”UW head coach Pete Waite also feels Kuzma is a good fit for his team.”[Kuzma] is just an explosive player,” Waite said. “She really pushes her teammates. She is very quick on the court and very tough. We were looking somebody who could come in as a freshman and compete for a job among the other veteran defensive players.”And compete for a job is exactly what Kuzma has done.It is the competition between all the defensive specialists that Kuzma sees as a reason for her improvement so far.”The fact that we are all good defensive players makes each of us better,” Kuzma said. “Day in and day out we have to come in and practice our hardest and play our best to try and get the position that we want.”Kuzma has continued to improve every time she has stepped on the court.So far in this young season, Kuzma has averaged 2.56 digs per game and led all players with 18 digs against Northern Iowa. Because of her steady play, Waite sees Kuzma’s playing time increasing as the season progresses.”Kuzma has come in here right away and found a way on the court a number of times,” Waite said. “We feel confident with her, and I think she will get on the court more and more as the season goes on.”Whenever Kuzma has seen the court this year, she has done everything she can to show Waite that she belongs on the court.”[Kuzma’s] really a warrior on the court, who won’t back down to anybody,” Waite said. “She will be nipping at the heels at all our big players in the front row to push them to be better.”Because of that work ethic, Waite sees Kuzma of being capable of putting together a streak similar to Wack’s NCAA record 80 consecutive matches with at least 10 digs.”It’s going to be hard because [Wack] started it from the beginning when she walked in,” Waite said. “But in the Northern Iowa match she put up bigger dig totals than [Wack] and [Wack] was in there six rotations and [Kuzma] was in there only three. That was just a sign of things to come.”While Waite sees a lot of upside in Kuzma, he sees her youth as her biggest upside.”The fact that we lose three excellent defensive players to graduation this year, she is going to be ready to step into the libero role,” Waite said.