The Mitchell High School volleyball team looks a little different this season.
That’s by design.
The Kernels are using a two-setter rotation, something that hasn’t been done much in coach Deb Thill’s 32 years as Mitchell’s coach.
“It’s been a long time,” Thill said of the last time her team strayed from a one-setter formation.
It is a new wrinkle to watch for the Kernels, who are 5-4 in the early part of the season but played well in a four-set home win over rival Huron on Sept. 11.
The two setter system provides a role for juniors Lizzie Tyler and Jurzee Gregg, Thill said.
“For us, we feel for blocking and offense, we’ve got two really good setters and we think we can be that much stronger on offense with them both in the system,” Thill said. “We can be a strong defense, a strong serve-receive team, and we’re going to be a better offensive team.”
The 6-2 alignment, as it is called, the setters are positioned in a way that is opposite of each other in a rotation, meaning the team always has a setter in the back row. It also works for teams that have a number of capable hitters, much like Mitchell does this season.
“It’s just like in basketball, what kind of zone defense do you want to run, do you want to be in man-to-man,” Thill said. “You have to look at what you’re given and do what’s best for the team based on the opportunities that are out there.”
Tyler is the team leader in assists with 148 through the first nine matches. Junior Jurzee Gregg is the other primary setter with 70 assists in the first portion of the season. Sarah Sebert, who is the team’s libero, has 18 assists, as well. Tyler is second on the team in kills with 58, behind team leader Kaspen Alm’s 116 kills.
Thill said there has been little change in style or cohesion in the Kernels’ attacking and passing with the setter changes, and there’s confidence in whomever is setting to make the passes and set up their teammates to score.
In a quirk for this season, Thill said a number of Mitchell’s opponents have been running a two-setter system. That included all three opponents last week: Pierre, Harrisburg and Huron.
“It is kind of unusual for a lot of (our teams) to be doing that,” Thill said. “So much of it depends on personnel, and when you’ve got a really talented offensive player that can also be the setter, that makes a big difference.”
Mitchell is next in action at Spearfish on Saturday, Sept. 18 for a triangular with Douglas, facing the Spartans and the Patriots in separate matches.