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Schmidt a jack of all trades for Mitchell

Mitchell’s Emma Schmidt passes to a Kernel hitter during a volleyball match earlier this season at Mitchell High School. (Aaron Saunders/Republic

The Mitchell Kernel volleyball team prides itself on being versatile, and no player exemplifies that more than setter Emma Schmidt.

The senior has been all over the floor for the Kernels this season, but perhaps her greatest mark has been the amount of double-digit assists and digs she has accumulated. Schmidt has recorded at least 10 digs and 10 assists for a double-double in 10 games this season.

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“The doubles-doubles wouldn’t have come without the good hitters and playing good defense,” said Schmidt, adding she has always loved playing defense. “I work really hard at defense and I know it is crucial to have a good defender at every position in the back row.”

Schmidt combines athleticism, positioning and anticipation to play good defense. Her season high is 19 digs.

Schmidt is tied for the school’s highest number of digs in a match with 41, which she set last year and is tied with 2012 graduate and South Dakota State University Jackrabbit Megan Farnham. This season, Schmidt has recorded 204 digs and 609 assists.

Schmidt’s season high in sets is 44, a number she recorded against Eastern South Dakota Conference foe Harrisburg on Sept. 7.

“Emma is our most athletic player,” Mitchell volleyball coach Deb Thill said. “We could have her play any position on the floor. She is very smart, makes good decisions and is a natural floor leader.”

Prior to this season, the three-year starter hadn’t recorded more than 60 assists in a season because she was primarily an outside hitter. During her time as an outside hitter, Schmidt recorded 269 kills.

While she has played the role of setter this season, it is not uncommon to see her go for a kill or tip.

“You want to have someone like her to touch the ball the most,” Thill said, adding every play runs through her two-year captain. “She can pass, she has a very nice serve, she can block and she can hit.”

Though this is Schmidt’s first year starting as the varsity squad’s starting setter, she was a setter at one point for Mitchell. During her sophomore year, Schmidt started on varsity as an outside hitter but was a setter on the junior varsity squad as well.

She said the experience made the transition much easier this season.

“It has been easier than I thought it would be,” Schmidt said. “Throughout high school, I have always been working on setting. My background in setting definitely made it an easy transition.”