A new attitude
Spencer volleyball adjusted its style of play to remain at the top of the conference
By Paul Lecker
SPENCER — The Spencer volleyball team may be short (pun intended) on height, but it is long on experience and grit, two things that have brought the Rockets to the verge of yet another Cloverbelt Conference East Division championship.
In past years with the likes of Courtney Schultz, Tara Matter, Tynae Phipps, Macie Weber, and Marisa Johnson, among others, the Rockets had big hitter after big hitter on the front line.
This year’s Spencer squad is a bit different with no one taller than 5-foot-9. With that, the Rockets had to change their style, and although it may have taken a while, they have it down pat heading into the final stretch of the season.
Spencer has won four-straight Cloverbelt East titles and stands on the doorstep of another as the Rockets head into a match Thursday at Owen-Withee looking to clinch a share of first place. Spencer finishes its Cloverbelt East schedule Monday at Greenwood.
Eight seniors and one junior are part of the main rotation for the Rockets. Jenna Schober and Johanna Ellefson lead the way on the front line.
“They do what they can do. In the beginning of the year, they struggled,” Spencer coach Buff Heller said. “Our tallest girl is 5-foot-8 ½, 5-9. We’re used to having 6-foot-2 girls pounding the ball. Those first two tournaments we’re hitting it thinking we can hit it like a 6-2 girl.
“Now that the year has gone on, they’ve figured out that you can play defense — our defense has been spectacular — and serve well. You can beat a lot of teams.”
Schober and fellow seniors Jenna Rogers and Courtney Buss have become the backbone of the team with stout defensive play in the back row, staving off their opponents’ best shots.
Heller said the ability of the Rockets’ defense has led to an improved offense, and they have found a winning formula.
“They’re trying to be more patient,” Heller said. “When you’re 5-7, your set has to be pretty good to take a big swing. With our defense you just have to be patient. That’s what I’ve been preaching.”
Spencer should receive one of the top seeds in its WIAA Division 3 regional, which begins Oct. 18. To make a run to the state tournament in Green Bay, which will be Nov. 3-5, the Rockets will have to keep their core group on the court.
“Right now we’re clicking pretty well,” Heller said. “We have to stay healthy. We don’t have the depth we’ve had the last four or five years. If we stay healthy, I think we can play with anybody.”
Paul Lecker is publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com, a contributor to Hub City Times Sports. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.