PROVO — BYU women's volleyball coach Heather Olmstead doesn't make a habit of handing out effusive praise to any particular player publicly, but in the case of Roni Jones-Perry, stating the obvious is praise enough.
Jones-Perry leads the Cougars into the NCAA Tournament this year as the No. 4 seed, which mean's they'll host every round at the Smith Fieldhouse up until the Final Four, so long as they keep winning. Play begins this Friday with the Cougars taking on Stony Brook, with the winner advancing to take on the winner of Utah vs. Denver in the second round on Saturday.
As for Jones-Perry, it will be her final run on the heels of one of the best careers ever put forth at BYU, a program that has seen a good share of top players through the years.
"Roni is going to be one of the greatest outside (hitters) to play here when it's all said and done," Olmstead said. "… She's such a good teammate, and people love to play with her."
As is the case with most great players, Jones-Perry's numbers largely speak for themselves.
Currently, the 6-foot Copper Hills graduate stands at 1,386 career kills, good for fifth in BYU history during the rally scoring era, which began in 2001. She's also third in career serving aces with 103 compiled over her career.
One has to imagine what Jones-Perry's numbers would be had the Cougars not proven so dominant in overwhelming most opponents this year and even dating back the past four seasons. BYU finished off opponents in just three sets in 20 of the 27 wins compiled this season, with Jones-Perry finishing out a lot of those matches on the bench.
Sweeps aside, Jones-Perry stands currently at No. 4 nationally in points per set (5.47) and is No. 10 nationally in kills per set (4.71.)
According to Olmstead, those numbers have come about due to several key factors.
"Roni just has a growth mindset. She keeps wanting to get better, and anyone who has seen her play from her freshman to her senior years can attest to that," Olmstead said. "She's never satisfied with her play and she's very humble. She's always asking for advice, so she's just a worker."
The description of humble is an apt one, at least during most interviews where any question Jones-Perry is thrown regarding her personal accomplishments quickly turn to answers regarding how great her teammates and coaches are. When presented with Olmstead's statements of her being considered one of the all-time greats at BYU, Jones-Perry doesn't take the comments lightly, however.
"It means a lot to me," Jones-Perry said. "Heather isn't going to say something she doesn't mean, so it really means a lot coming from her, and she's an incredible coach who has coached a lot of incredible athletes."6 comments on this story
Jones-Perry's career will likely be considered as extraordinary as most of the top players, with a prime opportunity to add to her legacy through her last go at a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. The Cougars are well-poised for a deep run given their No. 4 seeding and a team full of depth and talent, despite the loss of junior opposite hitter McKenna Miller, who went down with an ACL injury late in the regular season.
"This period of time I have left is something I'm going to cherish forever, but I don't think it's necessarily a bigger deal than the rest of the time I've gotten to spend with these girls," Jones-Perry said. "But it's definitely something I'm going to hang on to as much as I can because it's my last shot to play with these girls in this type of environment."