On Saturday night during UC Irvine’s match versus cross-town rival Long Beach State, senior Kristin Winkler became the Big West’s all-time leader in career digs. Beginning the match just nine shy of the previous record of 2,194 set by Cal State Fullerton’s libero Cami Croteau between 2007-2010, Winkler picked up the record-breaking dig early in the second set. With still two matches remaining in the season, the Irvine libero has recorded 2,211 digs.
In the Los Altos native’s freshman season with the ’Eaters, the libero led the team in digs with 479 with a career-high 30 digs in the match against Pacific. The 30 digs recorded that night tied for sixth in the UCI single-match records.
Improving by more than 50 total digs the next season, the sophomore amassed 532 digs in 2010, scooping up double-figure digs in all but one match. In UCI’s match against Liberty that season, Winkler had a career-high night, posting 32 digs to tie the top mark in the UCI single-match record books. At the end of her sophomore campaign, the libero had totaled 1,011 digs, earning ninth in Irvine career records.
The following season in 2011, Winkler ranked 40th in the nation in digs per set at 5.12. Finishing second in dig average in the conference, only one Anteater beat the junior to 1,500 career digs as she accumulated 1,584. Winkler again set a career-high and school match record with 34 digs in the match against Portland State. In her junior campaign, Winkler reached double digits in digs in all but two matches.
“I expect every ball to come to me and I expect every ball to be my ball,” Winkler said to the Daily Pilot earlier this season. “I don’t let people take balls in front of me. You just kind of have that mindset that you’re the best defender and that you should be getting every ball and making a play on every single ball. Sometimes you have to push people out of your way.”
Whatever Winkler’s mindset may be, it’s working and it’s worked for the past three seasons. As Winkler closed in on the Big West record, she also neared closer to her final match as an ’Eater. With aspirations of continuing to play post-graduation, the business administration major has eyes for volleyball overseas. If the libero’s future includes volleyball outside of the states, we could one day see Winkler’s name on a Swiss or German roster.
If the athlete decides to pursue something other than the sport she loves, the senior wants to work in an area that allows her to be around sports as much as possible.
“Whatever job has that option … would be a great job,” Winkler said in an interview during her junior season before breaking the Big West record.
The libero will play in the final two matches of the season on the road as her career dig total will continue to climb. Considering Winkler’s per-set dig average this season at 5.65, the libero could reach a total as high or higher than 2,260.
Congratulations to Winkler for breaking the Big West record in career digs!
Filed Under: Sports