Jones ends senior year with pocketful of awards

Blue passion Tessa Jones finished her career fourth on the Washburn all-time kills list with 1,511. She also finished fourth in kills per game with an average of 3.97. This season, Jones set the record for kills in a season with 657 and kills per game at 4.47.

Jake Lebahn

Becoming the first-ever Lady Blue to be awarded first team all-American by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) is not a bad way to end a college career. Tessa Jones, who was named MIAA Conference Player of the Year, recorded the top honor during her senior year after receiving second and third team nominations in her previous two seasons.

“Having this be my last year playing at Washburn, it’s really good to go out on a good note,” said Jones. “It definitely has meant a lot, having a great senior year.”

While winning all the individual achievements is nice, they are not the main goal that has driven Jones the past three years she has been at Washburn.

“What drives me is just winning,” said Jones. “I don’t really pay attention to all that stuff. I have had some good games here, but being able to look back and have the success with all my teammates and all the great people I have met, plus I can say I had a great senior season getting to the Elite Eight.”

Jones, who is from Lee’s Summit, Mo., transferred to Washburn from the University of Kansas. After spending her freshman year at KU she decided to switch schools. One of the main reasons she transferred was to play for head coach Chris Herron.

“He was a great fit,” said Jones. “He motivates us and it means a lot, because he wants us to perform well. He really does care about us a lot.”

Herron used his coaching style and a bit of persuasion to lure Jones to Washburn instead of Wichita State, Creighton or Missouri State, the other schools she considered at the time.

“At the time she was deciding on transferring,” said Herron. “We were just honored to be in the mix at the time, but she came here and had a great visit. I told her she could be an All-American, not knowing she would be a three-time All-American.”

Hard work and a willingness to improve are just a few on the strong points to Jones’ game. However, injuries have had a big effect on her volleyball career.

“She has had at least three surgeries on her knees,” said Herron. “She hasn’t been healthy all the time. I don’t know if Tessa is as good as Tessa could have been because of those injuries, but she has fought through it and is playing at the highest level this year.”

After finishing with volleyball, Jones plans getting her degree next year in exercise physiology. Once she graduates Jones wants to get involved in coaching the game she has played for so long.

“I really have to focus on school and academics,” said Jones. “But what I really want to do is coach [and] get a graduate assistant job somewhere. Hopefully somewhere warm.”