Behind every successful kill is a perfectly placed set that makes it all possible, and the volleyball team realizes that now more than ever.
With sophomore Sydney Folk, last year’s team leader in assists, leaving the team to focus on playing for the softball team, the setting duties will fall to junior Marissa Woodcome and junior transfer Missy Weil.
Senior outside hitter Liz Previte said the team is disappointed losing Folk, but understands her decision to leave. Previte said Folk was a strong setter because she could communicate well with her in pressure situations on the court.
Woodcome shared setting duties with Folk last year and tallied 507 last season. Weil, a transfer from Corning Community College, will be setting for the first time since high school after playing as a hitter for the Red Barons.
Previte said the setter needs to know who the most effective hitter is in executing certain plays.
“A setter knows when you’re hot on one specific hit one day and she’ll keep feeding you the ball,” she said. “The setter has to decide who’s hot and also what set is the best for the hitter.”
The setters and hitters work together every day in practice and the setters learn the exact set that each hitter prefers. For example, Previte prefers her sets to be on the far right side of the court and five feet off the net.
The job of the setter may seem simple at first: Take every second ball of the point. But Woodcome said the duties of the setter are among the most complex on the court.
“We have to know all of the plays. We have to know each individual hitter and what their tendencies are,” she said. “We have to know the other side of the court, like who are the weakest blockers and who to set on our side so we can take advantage of the weaker blockers.”
A common play that Woodcome calls to the team is a shoot and a slide. She sends the hitters in different directions to confuse and split up the opponents’ blockers. Woodcome then needs to decide which hitter to set the ball to.
Since the setter calls and runs the offense, Weil said, the position is often compared to the quarterback of a football team.
“You’ve got to find out what each player is the best at, figure out a play and then run it,” she said.
Head Coach Janet Donovan said diligence and initiative were essential traits for a setter.
“She works harder than everybody else on the team, she is a really good leader, a good motivator and stays really positive,” she said.
Woodcome said setters and hitters need to be able to communicate what went wrong after a missed shot.
“It’s really situational to know whose fault it was because it could be a perfect set and the hitter didn’t get there,” she said.
Previte, who had 34 assists last season, said she and Woodcome have developed effective communication skills after playing with each other for two seasons.
“Marissa is very levelheaded and she takes criticism, but I know not to yell at Marissa because she has to be thinking about so much,” Previte said.
Woodcome said it all boils down to trust between setters and hitters.
“The setter has to have the confidence that the hitter is going to put them where they know they can succeed,” she said.