As the setter for the volleyball team, senior Kelly Maxwell is the middleman for the team.
Her job is to receive the pass from her teammate and set up the outside hitters or middle blocker for a kill. Without good passes, it’s difficult for a setter to put the ball in a good position for her teammates to spike the ball.
“She put up a lot of great balls considering we played two matches almost entirely out of system,” said head coach Erik Olson. “We say that great setters can make a team better when the pass isn’t perfect and then when we finally got the passes, she was spectacular.”
With different results, Olson says he believes Maxwell’s performance would have gotten much more attention.
“If we’d have gone 3-0, she probably would have been (MAC) Offensive Player of the Week,” Olson said. “I think she’s second in the league right now in assists per game, so she’s playing well.”
Olson says the poor passing in the first two matches was one of the main reasons the team started off the tournament 0-2 and lost the first two sets of the third match.
After losing a close match to Oakland and being swept by Oregon State, Villanova was CMU’s final chance to salvage a victory for the weekend.
“Our passing continued to struggle into Villanova, who was the toughest serving team at the tournament,” Olson said. “Then we found a great group of passers that started to put it together and all of a sudden our offense came alive and it was night and day.”
When the Chippewas weren’t making good passes, Olson says they were letting the other team control the game instead of taking control themselves.
“It was a complete shift and was what we were missing,” Olson said. “We were playing a vanilla offense because our ball control was not quite up to snuff.”
The improved passing was the difference in the third match, as CMU went on to win and Maxwell tallied 58 assists, 11 more than her previous high over the weekend.
“Passing’s the backbone of our team,” Maxwell said. “We’re going to work on that every week, no matter if it’s a good win, a bad win (or) a loss.”
The team practiced passing for three-straight hours on Monday and put a few unique drills into place.
“We did a drill today where we had to pass for five minutes without talking to see what impact that would make on us,” Olson said. “I think we got a lot better.”
This drill was just another step in the process for the Chippewas.
“I think that really helped the passers identify some new skills that they’ve been learning,” Maxwell said. “I think that’s just going to strengthen our offense.”