Following their two older sisters onto the volleyball court, Tiffany and Heather Jacobson look to help Chapelgate win a title

Sibling chemistry



September 20, 2006|By Glenn Graham | Glenn Graham,sun reporter

When they were younger, Heather and Tiffany Jacobson just wanted to be like their older sisters.

At every River Hill volleyball game, the two would make up their own cheering section - blue and yellow pom-poms in hand - sporting their older sisters' jersey tops.

Heather always had Krystal's No. 8 on her back, while Tiffany wore Stephanie's No. 35. The 2001 season was the best, when Krystal was a senior and Stephanie was a sophomore.

"We'd watch them play in high school and I'd think, `Wow, this is so awesome, and they are so good,' " said Tiffany, 15, who was 10 at the time and in fifth grade. "It's kind of funny now that I'm playing in high school with Heather."

Heather and Tiffany Jacobson are trying to help Chapelgate Christian Academy win the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference title this fall.

Heather, 17, is a 6-foot-1 senior hitter who brings power and leadership as a team captain. Tiffany is a 6-foot-3 sophomore setter who brings skills and strategy along with soft hands to set the table. And the two still wear No. 8 and No. 35, respectively.

When Chapelgate coach Chris Moxley first learned the Jacobson sisters were transferring to the tiny Marriottsville school last summer, she could not have been happier. When asked what the sisters have brought to the team, she replied, "Everything."

"They're both very skilled players and are very good team players, so they bring a great dynamic to the team," Moxley said. "And they're both hard workers, so they're the type of players every coach would love to have."

Volleyball has been a lifelong passion and a year-round endeavor for the sisters, who also play for the Maryland Juniors club team out of College Park. Over the summer, the club's under-18 team reached the national tournament in Atlanta. Heather was a prominent player on the team and Tiffany, who normally plays in a younger age group, was called up to make the trip.

The sisters take different approaches to the volleyball court.

Heather is laid-back and more able to shake off a bad point to move on to the next.

Tiffany is considered the most competitive of the four sisters and is described by her mother, Vikki, as a perfectionist with an intense desire to do well.

It translates into good chemistry, as the two are one of the top setter-hitter tandems in the IAAM. Last season, Heather finished with 123 kills in 58 games for a 2.12 per-game average. Tiffany, starting as a freshman, had 208 assists for a 3.6 average and also had a .977 serve percentage.

"I was really excited when Tiffany came to high school last year, and it's been especially fun because I'm a hitter and she's a setter," said Heather, who also had the opportunity as a freshman to play with sister Stephanie at River Hill. "Being sisters, we actually quarrel a little bit. But we connect very well, and I know exactly where her sets are going to be."

Being the youngest, Tiffany has always been around volleyball, having more sisters to observe and getting started the earliest, at age 7. Her father, Randy, said she has the most advanced game of the sisters, and her passion has helped her overcome obstacles.

When she was 10, she was diagnosed as a type-1 diabetic, totally insulin dependant. She cannot eat anything without having to take insulin.

"When she exercises, she has to be careful because you burn sugar, so it's a real balancing act. But it hasn't slowed her down one bit," Vikki Jacobson said.

In spring 2005, Tiffany had a spinal fusion after it was learned she had scoliosis (curvature of the spine). The recovery time for the back surgery was four to six months, but Tiffany was playing volleyball in three months. During her recovery, she practiced setting in her bed.

"She's used almost every room in the house to play volleyball at one time or another," Randy Jacobson said. "If you hear a continuous banging in the house, that's Tiffany practicing her sets against a wall. She touches the ball a lot, and that's one reason her hands have such good control."

Krystal had no idea what she was starting when she was 8 and giving the different sports a try, finding volleyball best suited for her personality.

After playing four years at Pacific Union College, a small Christian school in the Napa Valley where Stephanie is a junior, she has returned home to find an ideal first job, albeit temporary, as she is planning to go to dental school. Now, she is getting the chance to watch her younger sisters play in high school as an assistant coach at Chapelgate.

"I haven't been home much in four years, so I haven't seen them since they were middle-school age. They've both grown so much and improved so much skill-wise," she said.

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