She's dealt with adapting to college volleyball, making a position change and compensating for a lack of height. Now, ISU freshman volleyball player Amanda Craig is ready to help her team record its first conference win.
"We definitely want to start taking some matches from some Big 12 teams, and we feel like we're at the point where we can start doing that," Craig said. "We've seen all the teams once already. Now we need to be ready to step it up."
The ISU volleyball team dropped to 9-11 with a loss to No. 10 Northern Iowa on Tuesday, and stands at 0-8 in the Big 12 conference.
However, in a conference that doesn't often see freshmen perform at a high level right away, Craig has made her mark.
"The step from going from high school to college, especially in the Big 12 Conference, is a big one to take," said ISU sophomore Brittany Dalager, who made the same kind of impact last season for the Cyclones. "I've just told her to stay confident, hit high, go for smart shots and open areas and just stay in the game and don't get down when you make mistakes."
So far Dalager's advice seems to be working.
Craig has played in every match for the Cyclones, recording 146 kills and 211 digs, and has helped the team gain more respect, despite its winless record in the Big 12 Conference.
And she's done it while switching positions and trying to move from high school volleyball to the college game.
"She came in as a setter," Dalager said. "Every day in practice, she'll learn more. And then she'll just have to take it and put it into the game."
Craig said it hasn't been easy.
The college game is a lot different and moving from setter to outside hitter has been a big change as well.
"Probably learning to go around the block was the hardest thing," the 5-foot-8 Craig said. "In the Big 12, you have a 6-4 block along the net and it's just a totally different game. I guess the mentality is different."
Despite her height, which is small for an outside hitter in the Big 12 Conference, Craig said she's not intimidated when she looks across the net and sees much taller players staring back at her.
"I know going into it that everyone is probably going to be taller than I am, but it just means I have to be creative on how I take my shots," she said. "I don't really think of it as a disadvantage. It's just something else I have to adjust to."
And she has.
"What a lot of people don't realize about hitting is, if you hit high, you have more shots," Dalager said. "A big part of that is staying mentally strong. She's been able to do that."
Craig said having someone like Dalager around to help has been a big benefit.
"Brittany's been one of my biggest supporters," she said. "She always helps me with all of my hitting, because I had to adjust to that. But she helps me with all aspects of the game and shows me how it should be done."
Although there has been a lot of adjustments Craig has had to made, she said the biggest one was adjusting to the play in the Big 12.
"It's a faster-paced game," she said. "It brings volleyball to a whole new level.
"There are bigger teams all around. The blocking is obviously a lot better. They're just all solid teams. Every player on the other side of the court is a good player."
And as far as being content with the player she's become, Craig's not.
"I want to improve statistically and keep doing what I need to get done to help the team win games," she said.