Weber sets Steamboat volleyball up for victory in home opener
Dani Weber is one of the smaller players on the court, but her role might be the biggest. As the Steamboat Springs High School volleyball team’s setter, she runs the offense.
Her job is easy in one way. All the senior has to do is pass the ball to a teammate to slam over the net. Of course, that’s easier said than done.
In her second varsity match as the full-time setter, she piloted the offense in route to a 3-0 win over Middle Park on Thursday night.
“Setter position is critical,” head coach Wendy Hall said. “Not only are they a leader on the court, touching the ball, you hope, a third of the time — the decision making is so, so critical in that role, feeding the hot hitter and understanding where the big block is and making your hitters look good.”
Weber, who is also a team captain, is always chasing after the second hit. No matter who receives the ball and which direction it goes, she’s following the ball. Thankfully, her backline is skilled enough to give her the ball near the net much of the time.
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Once under the ball, she’s incredibly graceful. She gently pushes the ball upwards with her fingers while rising into the air.
The ball soars not only up into the air, giving her teammates time to get into position, but it begins a trajectory toward a specific hitter. Much of the time, she’s right on target. The outside or middle hitter has little adjusting to do to hit the ball over the net and into enemy territory.
“The perfect set for me … it doesn’t matter how pretty it looks for me but if it’s perfect for the hitter,” Weber said. “It’s right where they want it and it’s how high they want it and they get a good hit off of it.”
Weber has been setting since fourth grade but competitively with the school since seventh grade.
There’s a handful — no pun intended — of things that could go wrong as a setter. She could not be ready to run down the ball, she could barely get there and send the ball flying to an unreachable location, or she could poorly set up a teammate, preventing them from putting a strong arm on the ball.
On Thursday night, Weber made few mistakes, which is especially impressive since this was one of the first times she’s played an entire match. Last year, Weber was the second string setter. She saw time in a regional game as well, gaining confidence and experience. Now, she’s fully loaded with self-assurance, and it showed.
“I’m always confident (in her),” junior outside hitter Ashlyn Robson said. “I know that even if it’s off, she’ll communicate with me like, ‘I know that was off. I’ll get you on next time.’ Or when she sets and I’m going up, she’ll tell me right then, too, and tell me what I have open. I always feel like she’s always there.”
While locating the ball and getting under it to make the second hit, Weber is deciding where to put the ball. She generally has a few options but has to be aware of where her teammates are to make the smartest choice. They also communicate with her that they are ready to swing.
Rarely does Weber dump the ball over the net herself.
“I don’t like to do it because I feel like my job as a setter is to feed the hitters,” she said. “If I keep dumping it, they don’t get the opportunity to do their job.”
Weber isn’t a one-trick pony, either. She also has a wicked serve. With the setter at the service line, the Sailors turned a 17-13 lead to a 22-13 advantage before winning 25-15. The Sailors won the first set 25-16 and the final 25-18 for the sweep. They are now 2-0 on the year and play next Friday against Palisade at home.
Steamboat Springs 3, Middle Park 0
SS 25 25 25 – 3
MP 16 15 18 – 0
Aug. 24 - at Moffat County, W 3-0 (25-19, 25-19, 25-20)
Aug. 26 - vs. Middle Park, W 3-0 (25-16, 25-15, 25-18)
Aug. 31 - at Soroco, L 3-1 (25-22, 18-25, 24-26, 23-25)
Sept. 3-4 Glenwood Springs Tournament, 3rd of 11
Sept. 14 - at Eagle Valley, L 3-1 (25-23, 16-25, 25-22, 25-23)
Sept. 16 - vs. Battle Mountain, W 3-1 (25-23, 25-18, 19-25, 26-24)
Sept. 18 - at Thornton Tournament
Sept. 21 - at Glenwood Springs, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 1 - at Summit, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 8 - at Palisade, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 9 - at Central Grand Junction, 1 p.m.
Oct. 14 - vs. Glenwood Springs, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 19 - vs. Eagle Valley, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 21 - at Battle Mountain 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 30 - at Aspen, 2 p.m.
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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