Setting the table: Cloverdale’s Rady, Greencastle’s Duff don’t mind unglamorous roles
When Greencastle and Cloverdale meet on the volleyball court Thursday night for the third time this season, they will have one thing in common — a junior setter with more than 1,000 career assists.
Cloverdale’s Hannah Rady surpassed the milestone figure early last week, and Jalyn Duff of Greencastle surpassed that mark a few days later.
Both players had established reaching that figure as a goal.
“It was something I’ve been working toward,” Rady said. “I couldn’t do it without great teammates passing me the ball, and the hitters following through with a good hit.”
Duff admits not knowing she was that close at the time.
“I heard Hannah passed 1,000, and I knew I had to be close,” Duff said. “I looked at the stats, and I was only 13 away. It’s been a goal of mine since I became a setter.”
Greencastle has won both meetings between the teams this season, coming from a 2-1 deficit to win at Cloverdale in a regular-season match and then topping the Clovers in the first round of the Putnam County tourney — which Greencastle won for the fifth straight year.
Thursday night, they will meet at Greencastle for the final time this season in the Western Indiana Conference crossover round. Each team placed fourth in its division, and the winner will claim seventh place in the league standings.
Basic volleyball has three stages in an optimal setting. Unless a block is made at the net, a back row defensive specialist receives the ball from the opponent with the goal of passing it on to the setter on the front row.
The setter then targets a teammate and passes her the ball for the final of the three allowable hits.
While the setter is the sometimes overlooked “middleman” in the process, the hitters would never get to do their thing if not for the first two stages.
Both Rady and Duff enjoy their primary role, despite its lack of flair.
“I really like setting up my hitters and helping us to get points,” Rady said. “It’s a pretty important job, and I like doing it.”
“The biggest part is knowing where my teammates are at all times,” she said. “I know who I’m setting for, and I trust all my teammates to get their feet to it and get the kill.
“I have really good passers,” she said. “I struggle sometimes getting to my spot, but they always get me the ball in the right spot.”
The two players had different routes to their current position.
“Coach [Traci] Scott [now the varsity coach] moved me there in middle school when she was my coach,” Rady said. “I love it.”
Between the two players, Duff is a little taller and spikes the ball on occasion.
Rady quickly realized she did not have the same build as classmate Tori Combs, a ferocious hitter who pounds the ball across the net with authority.
“I was never going to be a hitter,” she said.
Duff admits she grudgingly accepted the job as a freshman.
“I was really mad that I had to be a setter my freshman year,” she said. “Now I wouldn’t change anything. I like the feeling of making my hitters look good and making my passers look good.”
Duff plays point guard in basketball, a sport in which assists are awarded on a stingy basis — with the receiver having to make a basket in order for the pass to qualify.
In volleyball, Rady noted the setter gets an assist if the person hitting the ball either hits it on the opposite side court or if it is fielded by an opponent to begin the bump-set-spike process again.
“If the ball goes out of bounds on a hit, you don’t get an assist,” she said. “My hitters do a great job of getting the ball down.”
Thursday’s match will be the final one for each team in the regular season, with sectionals set to begin next week.
“We owe them a couple, and we’re really looking forward to Thursday night,” Rady said. “Especially with it being on their home court. We wish our record [9-14] was a little bit better, but we have been playing pretty well lately.”
Duff’s team is also looking forward to Thursday’s match, and with the best record (13-7) among the six teams in the North Montgomery Sectional the Tiger Cubs are also ready for that level.
“Thursday will be a good match,” she said. “We are all excited for the sectional, too. It’s been a long time since Greencastle has won a sectional , and I really want to win it for Maggie.”
Maggie Meyer is the team’s only senior, and Duff would like to send her off on a positive note.
“She works so hard at this sport and for this team, she deserves it,” Duff said.