Since debuting as a sophomore in 2011, Kassie Aldridge has distributed more than 900 assists for the varsity girls volleyball team at Coal City.
Aldridge hopes to increase her assist total after distributing 487 of them in 2012. Many of her assists are sure to go to fellow seniors Emily Halliday, Morgan Leopold, Claire Smith, Britta Spelde and Amber Wilder.
Aldridge said the six seniors have played together since they were in sixth grade.
They are looking to go out with a bang together a year after helping the Lady Coalers win their Interstate Eight Conference division. Prior to their opener, Aldridge answered a series of questions from the Morris Daily Herald.
Q. Have you always been the primary setter on your teams? Did you ever share the role or even play somewhere else?
A. I’ve always been a setter, but back in middle school, I sat on the bench a lot, which I didn’t like, so I worked hard and joined club volleyball in the offseason to improve. As a freshman, we ran a 6-2 offense, and then when I got put on varsity my sophomore year, we ran a 5-1, and I’ve been the primary setter ever since.
Q. At what point did you realize setting was something that you did especially well?
A. When there was talk going around that a few of us could get moved up to varsity our sophomore year, myself included, I realized that I had potential to be a good setter. That gave me a confidence boost.
Q. Was there a coach or a team that helped you really get the fundamentals down for being a setter?
A. My high school coach, Mike Lanoue, and club volleyball coach, Melanie Kunz, really helped me become the setter that I am. They’ve both helped me a ton and I thank them both for that.
Q. Are you comfortable with the responsibility that comes with your role in the 5-1 system Coal City uses?
A. I am completely comfortable with the system we run. I was nervous in the beginning of my first year just because it was a quicker offense and I had a lot to learn. Once I got it all down and figured out all my hitters, I love having the responsibility of a setter. I always know what’s going on and I like having that control to get the ball to the open hitter.
Q. How do you balance giving a talented hitter like Halliday chances to attack with keeping the rest of Coal City’s hitters involved?
A. As a setter, I’m looking for who’s hot that night. I’m looking for ways to draw blockers to get the other hitters open. I look at how the other team’s blockers are set up to determine who gets set. We have a lot of talented hitters so it’s just a matter of who’s getting the ball down and scoring points for us that night.
Q. In all the years the current seniors have played together, what has been your favorite memory or accomplishment?
A. Winning conference last year was a huge accomplishment for us. We worked so hard all season. It came down to the last match against Westmont to determine the conference champs. I will never forget that game. The band was playing so loud on one half of the court, and the fans were so loud and rowdy on the other half. It was such an exciting and important game. I’m looking forward to this season to see what we can accomplish as a team this year.
Q. What kind of an advantage does the years the seniors have played together give your team?
A. We’ve all been playing together since sixth grade, and most of us have played club together at some point, too. We’re just all so close and there’s no drama between us. We’re familiar with each other and know what our roles are on the team and I think that helps us a lot. I think we have an advantage because of our good chemistry.
Q. In order for Coal City to meet its goals, what must happen? What is the biggest key to success for you guys?
A. Our key to success is to just take things one game at a time. We need to focus on the little things to reach our goals. We’ve been working hard in practice and need to keep that up. We know we have the potential; now it’s time to execute.
Q. What would you consider a successful senior year for you?
A. I just want to go out and give it all I’ve got. A successful year for me is to leave it all out there on the court and field and to go out with a bang. We’ve all worked so hard through the years, and now it’s coming to an end, which is sad. Knowing that I tried my best would be a success for me personally this year.