The lights of the gym are bright and the noise of the crowd is blocked out by the boys varsity volleyball team as they focus on the volleyball. The ball is bumped high into the air to previous outside hitter, senior David Knipp as he gets under the ball to fill his new role as the team’s setter.
Knipp, an experienced volleyball player of eight years, has been playing the position of outside hitter for his junior year before he returned to his original spot as setter for the 2018 season. Since Knipp has had more experience as a setter than an outside hitter the transition was generally easy for him but he still found difficulties to the change.
“It’s not really difficult to change positions because I’ve played it before, but just adjusting from killing the ball and giving the crowd something to cheer about, to bring more of the assist guy was the most difficult,” Knipp said.
Boys Varsity Volleyball Coach Mayes Marks originally thought that Knipp would play outside hitter once again for the 2018 season due to his talent in outside hitting. The change was ultimately made for the team to excel this year.
“David was outstanding at Outside Hitter and it was felt that that would be his position for the 2018 season. However, after trying several alternatives, it was felt that David’s leadership abilities were needed as the setter in order for our team to be successful,” Marks said.
During his time last year as outside hitter Knipp grew to love his new role on the team.
“I like to play outside hitter more, because the adrenaline rush from spiking the ball,” Knipp said.
Due to his fondness of being outside hitter, Knipp was not all too enthused about going back to setter. After getting adjusted to his setter role Knipp’s perspective of the position began to change. He realized how the setter is just as important as playing outside hitter.
“At first I was really not excited about being setter, but my mindset just shifted because I thought about how the setter is like the quarterback of the volleyball court,” Knipp said.
Marks was hesitant to move Knipp as well. He knew Knipp’s preference and he knew how well of an outside hitter he was on the team.
“As it was not my intention to move David back to setter since he excelled at Outside Hitter…the well-being of the team had to be taken into consideration. It obviously was the right move as David has been our “glue” that has held our team together with his skills, hustle, and leadership,” Marks said.
Before switching positions officially, Marks tried to come up with a game plan in an effort to keep Knipp as outside hitter.
“We attempted to put in a “6-2” scheme where we would use two setters, leaving David as an Outside Hitter. After using that formation for several weeks, I felt that the back row defense was being weakened because of the demands upon the setters to “push up” to the front row to set,” Marks said.
Since Knipp was a valued asset to the team as a hitter Marks anticipated that it would be difficult to find a player to fill Knipp’s shoes.
“To replace David at Outside Hitter was not easy. However, [Senior] Majai Martin joined the team this year and has proven to be a fantastic replacement at Outside Hitter in place of David, as well as seeing the development of other returning players in the outside hitting position,” Marks said.
Although Knipp does miss being outside hitter he is happy to give his teammates a chance to try it out and advises that they stay behind the ball at all times. He also knows that the team will have a better season this year if he plays setter.
“What’s a good hitter without a [good] setter,” Knipp said.