As a freshman on the junior varsity volleyball team at St. Vincent Pallotti, Zacharie Jackson was used as a setter and hitter.
"My freshman year I did a little bit of hitting," Jackson said. "After my freshman year, I moved into setting, and I have been setting every since."
Jackson secured the setter position on varsity as a junior and was the main setter as a senior last season.
"I definitely like to set more than hit," she said "My timing is off when I hit,"
That turned out to be a smart choice, as Jackson is now one of the main setters as a freshman at Division III Marymount University in Arlington, Va.
"She is fast, she is athletic," said Beth Ann Wilson, now in her 21st year as the head coach at Marymount. "She has the best hands for a setter that I see in the gym (for our team). Even coaches and referees have brought that to my attention and confirmed that."
Jackson, a product of the Maryland Juniors club program, did not play in the season-opener Aug. 31 at Penn State Fayette, but played in two of three sets in a 3-0 loss the same day to Messiah, a strong Division III program in Grantham, Pa.
Jackson had five assists in the match.
"When I have a senior setter (Brianne Fitzpatrick) and two freshmen setters, I didn't feel the freshmen setters were ready to set the opening weekend," said Wilson, who played at Division I William & Mary College. "They hadn't played at a level that had exposed them to the college level. We felt Zach did a good enough job the opening weekend that we decided to make the move … and take our chances with the younger setters. She had a really good week of practice. We decided to get her that experience."
When Marymount took part in the two-day, five-team Guetle Invitational on Sept. 7-8 at Catholic University in Washington, Jackson had 26 assists and Fitzpatrick had 32 in a 3-2 loss to the host school.
Jackson then had a team-high 23 assists as the Saints beat Eastern Mennonite, of Virginia, 3-1, in their second match at Catholic later that day.
In a 3-1 win over Mt. St. Vincent, of New York, and 3-0 loss to Swarthmore, Jackson totaled 28 assists.
"I think the speed is quite different from high school," Jackson said. "I didn't know I was going to be able to play so quickly (at Marymount)."
Marymount was 5-6 overall through its first 11 matches.
Jackson's father played football in high school in New Jersey and attended Howard University. Her mother is a former cheerleader who grew up in the Washington D.C. area.
Coming out of high school, the Marymount freshman considered Howard University and Eastern Mennonite and looked into playing at Division III Stevenson and Salisbury universities.
"I wanted to be close to D.C. and I really like the atmosphere of campus," she said. "Right now, I am studying biology and elementary education."
"I think this is a good fit," Pallotti coach Scott Fifield said.
Jackson is one of two 2013 Pallotti grads playing in the Capital Athletic Conference this season.
Lanham resident Carissa Hill, the Laurel Leader Female Athlete of the Year, is a freshman for St. Mary's College of Maryland. Marymount will host St. Mary's on Oct. 30.
Fifield said he plans to take his current team to see the match at Marymount.
Hill, one of just two freshmen on the team, had a team-high 103 digs as the Seahawks began the season with seven wins in eight matches.
"It is going to be weird," Jackson said. "It is going to be fun."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun