Hollann Hans' play to start the season has been just what new Texas A&M volleyball coach Laura "Bird" Kuhn expected -- consistently solid throughout bordering on spectacular at times.
And off the court, the 6-foot-1 junior outside hitter already has the early lead in the most shocking moment of the year category for the Aggies (4-2).
"She got up on the bus and was rapping to this one song, and it was hilarious because you don't know that about her, but she did it and she did it when on a team function," Kuhn said. "So she is opening up and getting more comfortable being herself."
Hans, described as saying only two words ("Yes, ma'am") by her coach two years ago, has always been at home when swinging for a kill. The same has not been true when it comes to being the center of attention.
"Oh my gosh, my teammates were like Hollann come on, come on," Hans said of her musical coming out party on the bus. "That's not my normal personality to do that, but it's awesome because I'm so comfortable around my teammates this year. I just got up and I did it. It was kind of cool because normally in the past I would have been too scared."
Hans' go-to song is Girls Like You by Maroon Five, featuring rapper Cardi B. There is no time table on when Hans will take the big stage, but her debut on the bus while heading to a match gained rave reviews.
"They were all into it," said Hans, who plays the guitar.
On the court, she has lived up to her preseason All-Southeastern Conference billing through A&M's first six matches. Hans leads A&M in kills per set (5.05) and overall aces (nine), is tied for second in total blocks (eight) and ranks third in digs per set (2.20).
"We knew Hollann was going to be a solid player, and she is," Kuhn said. "[Penn State coach Russ Rose] said it this weekend: She could play on any team in the nation. She is that kind of athlete."
Hans will lead the Aggies in this week's A&M Invitational beginning with their home opener against Pepperdine at 7 p.m. Thursday at Reed Arena. A&M also will face Nicholls State at 10 a.m. and Missouri State at 7 p.m. Friday.
Although it's a small sample size, Hans is hitting .308 so far this season, nearly doubling her percentage from last season. It's no small feat considering the opponents know the Aggies look to Hans often, which is evident by the fact that she has 99 more attacks than the next player on the team.
"Hollann competes, and the one thing I love about her throughout all the matches is she is using the skills and the tools that she has been training since beginning of spring," Kuhn said. "So to see her attack all the time, that is something we talk about to those kids ... in clutch moments they are taking big swings and she has been doing that."
Hans played in all 30 matches and started in 12 as a freshman, and made an immediate impact with her arm swing that generates power hard to come. She finished second on the team in kills and first in aces that season. As a sophomore, she led A&M in kills and aces.
Hans credits her power in part to being a middle blocker at Calallen and for her club team, noting that the position forced her to learn a quick swing. Hans, who attended Aggie camps in high school and didn't make the switch to outside hitter until starting her college career, looked up to former Aggie middle blocker Lindsey Miller.
Her jump-serve is unique in that it not only has power and topspin, it curves to the left.
"Me and my dad would go out in my little pavement area, and we would practice serving all the time," Hans said. "I remember the first spring here serving in the gym, and [coaches] had radar guns, and we were just serving it as hard as we could. So doing that it just kind of made a curve to the side, and it was like, hmmm, OK, that is kind of nice. It just came natural, just happened. I didn't mean it, but I liked it."
Hans' big serve comes with risk -- she has 16 service errors this year -- but neither Hans nor Kuhn are going to temper her going for it no matter the situation.
"It's high risk, and when you have a high-risk server, you let them go, let it rip," Kuhn said. "There is no pulling back the reins."
Excitement for the home opener might put a little extra oomph in Hans' serve Thursday night.
"Playing in Reed Arena is my favorite thing ever, so that makes me so excited," Hans said. "I've dreamed of being here, and now that I'm here playing on court it's just the best feeling. It is kind of easy to get distracted by how many people and the loud noise and stuff like that. I soak it up when warming up and then turn that switch fast."