Volleyball teams rely on setters to know who’s hot, who’s not

ALYCE ALBRIGHT IS ONE OF TWO SETTERS at Central High School who run the offense. Albright and Nikki Keeling have four powerful hitters to set, Amy Kame, Haileigh Higgins, Ashley Wells and Meg Fisher.

It’s the quarterback in football. The clean-up hitter in baseball and the point guard in basketball.

Every sport has one position that is critical to a team’s offensive success, a spot that can make or break the season with its potency — or lack thereof.

In volleyball, that position is the setter.

Unlike the other sports, the setter is not the position with the most glamor.

The hitters earning points with their floor-thudding spikes and big blocks are the players who garner the attention. The setter makes every spike possible by setting up the middle and outside hitters to make those big plays.

“You have to be able to run the team and you are getting every second ball, so consistency is important,”

Fruita Monument setter Lindsey Henke said. “You have to know all the positions on the court and be aware about what is going on.”

Henke, a senior, has been the starting setter for the Wildcats since midway through her sophomore season.

She was recognized by the Rocky Mountain News before the start of the season as one of the best in the state at the position. Henke’s coach, Amelia Connor, was a setter herself and said she knows how critical the position is to a team’s success.

If a team’s offense is running correctly, the setter touches the ball on the second hit, allowing the hitters to create the points.

“They decide who gets the ball and who needs the ball for a momentum swing,” Connor said. “It is all about where the setter distributes the ball to keep the other side guessing.”

Being a setter means playing mind games with the other team by keeping the opponents on their heels.

Connor said a good setter will be able to throw the defense off by looking as if she is setting it forward but actually doing a back-set. By doing that, it can open up space for a kill.

In addition to keeping the defense guessing, the setter must know who is best suited to make the kill, understanding who has the hot hand.

“You have to know where everyone is supposed to be on the offense,” Grand Junction setter Morgan Jueschke said. “It is not a position where you are going to be scoring a lot of points, but you have to be the leader out there.”

That’s what makes it an unsung position. Setters are crucial for a team’s success but rarely recognized.

“It is kind of like basketball where the ones scoring the points are getting the ink,” Grand Junction coach Lynnette Robinson said. “But as a setter, you have got to see who is on and know who will attack the best against what (defense the opponents) are running.”

Tuesday,  Central’s setters, Alyce Albright and Nikki Keeling, proved just how important the position is, leading the Warriors to a 3-2 win over Montrose with a combined 33 assists.

The setter has to be able to play the mental side of volleyball just as much as the physical side. Being the floor leader, the setter serves as an extension of the coach.

“A setter has to be a little bit more outspoken,” Palisade coach Wendy MacAskill said. “She is the liaison between the coaches and players.”


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