Shelton’s Killer Instinct Helping Propel No. 2 Blinn

Shelton’s Killer Instinct Helping Propel No. 2 Blinn

“Dominant.” 

When asked to describe Jayde Shelton — Blinn College’s dynamic hitting machine — the sophomore setter was locked and loaded with superlatives. 

“Consistency. When she’s on the court, there’s a presence,” Sebek continued. “The other team is like, ‘Oh crap, Jayde Shelton is in; watch number 13.  

“I’ve seen a lot of consistency in two years. It’s something where she’s been good pretty much every game. She doesn’t take reps off, and she never goes easy. She’s always going for the kill.” 

Sebek’s last bit of assessment of her teammate is truth personified. 

Shelton, a sophomore from San Diego, California, has spent her two seasons at Blinn developing into one of the NJCAA’s premier hitters. The 6-foot, 1-inch, left-handed striker is now a featured piece in Buccaneer head coach Terry Gamble’s offensive scheme, with the statistics and track record to match. 

But while Sebek and others within the Blinn program are bursting at the seams with praise, Shelton has taken a backseat approach to her success. 

“Without my team, I wouldn’t be successful,” says Shelton. “I rely on my team a lot for everything I have. But I don’t really worry about any of that stuff. The kills, the accolades … none of that really matters if the team isn’t succeeding. I don’t even look at the stuff.” 

Shelton may not have her attention directed toward the things she has — and still is — accomplishing, but it’s all hard to miss.

During Blinn’ run to a fifth-place finish in the NJCAA Division I Volleyball Championship last spring, Shelton racked up Region XIV Player of the Year honors, was named to the NJCAA All-Tournament team, and found herself on the first-team All-American squad. She got there with an impressive season that saw her finish second in the nation with 442 kills and a hitting success rate of 38 percent. 

One year later, with Blinn (33-1) ranked second in the NJCAA’s Top 20 poll and primed for another deep postseason run, Shelton is again among the nation’s best hitters. Her 425 kills are seventh in the nation, though, by virtue of the Buccaneers’ 25 sweeps, she’s played 20 less sets than national leader Erica Fava (Western Nebraska Community College). 

And yet, that news was news to Shelton. 

“I don’t pay attention to that stuff at all,” she reiterated with a laugh and a smile. “If you allow the outside world to distract you, you want to be successful in what you’re doing in that moment. 

“If you want to be great, you have to be able to separate yourself from the noise, and I think our team’s ability to do that is why we’re having the season we are as a team.” 

It’s that humility and team-first mentality which Gamble says has been Shelton’s biggest area of growth since arriving in Brenham. Though Shelton didn’t touch a volleyball until her freshman year at Paloma Valley High School, Gamble believes her meteoric rise has as much to do with physical gifts and growth as it does her mental fortitude. 

 

“Maturity,” Gamble said. “I think she’s grown as a player mentally; I think she’s learned a system where she’s come in and maybe relied a lot on athletic ability, that now it’s more of a mental game for her; and she’s really grown mentally in learning the game and becoming a better player and teammate.” 

You don’t have to look much further than Sebek and freshman setter Lina Ellila to verify Gamble’s last statement. 

Shelton has substituted a need for personal approval and affirmation with a persistent recognition of those around her doing their best to make it happen. Ellila currently leads Blinn with 682 set assists, while Sebek has served up 525. 

“She gets her kills, but when she makes a great hit, she’ll turn to me and tell me how good of a set it was. She’s selfless,” Ellila said. “Jayde will get a kill — she’ll hit a bomb — and she’ll immediately turn around to me and say, ‘That was an amazing set.'” That’s what she’s about. She’s not about, ‘Oh, I’m so good.’ She doesn’t take all the credit, at all. She’s all about ‘Great pass and great set.'” 

Sebek concurred.  

“She’s all about letting us know that we’re as much a part of her success as she is,” Sebek said. “She tells us on the court; she tells us off the court … she’s a great teammate.” 

Though she’s done her best to avoid recognition, Shelton can’t run from it for much longer. 

As her kill totals climb, so do her Division I collegiate offers. With less than one month left in her final JUCO season, Shelton has fielded offers from New Mexico State, Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston State. 

But before she steps onto a new campus, Shelton is focused on resolving unfinished business on the one in which she currently resides. 

“We most definitely have an amazing team with extraordinary talents,” Shelton explained. “And we’re focused on each game. Our ultimate goal is nationals, but we have to focus on every single game that comes before that before we skip ahead. But at the same time, that national championship is what we’re all going for before this year ends.” 

Blinn has competed in intercollegiate athletics since 1903 and captured 42 NJCAA national championships since 1987.

About the Blinn College District 

With innovative programs and award-winning co-enrollment partnerships, Blinn’s academic transfer rate ranks No. 1 among Texas community colleges. Courses are available online and at five Central Texas campuses, and students save 43% in tuition and fees compared to the average state university. For more information, visit www.blinn.edu