Carson High volleyball finds strength in competition
After four-year varsity player Abby Pradere departed in the spring, Carson High volleyball head coach Robert Maw knew he was going to have to lean on a varsity newcomer to handle the setting duties in 2019.
Now with a 9-7 record after a three-set sweep of Hug on Thursday (25-7, 25-13, 25-4), Maw has found two reliable options to feed the ball to his hitters at the net.
Sophomore Olivia Smith and junior Abby Lemburg have taken over the setting responsibilities for the Senators and Maw thinks they’ve both grown nicely into their roles.
“Our connections have really developed,” said Smith.
“It’s a lot faster, but I like the speed of the game,” said Lemburg. “The adrenaline increases at this level.”
Junior Chloe Vasquez has also seen some reps as setter and played alongside Smith in the third set Thursday.
Smith and Lemburg have gone back-and-forth in earning starts so far this season, but Maw described both of them in one word – emerging.
“They’re emerging and they’re battling for it so I’m really happy,” said Maw. “Tonight (Thursday) I pushed them to make changes.”
Smith got the starting nod Thursday, playing through the first and third sets while recording 15 assists against the Hawks. Lemburg took over the duties in the second set and posted three assists in the win.
As the season has gone on Maw has asked more and more of the two setters in terms of not only watching the flight of the ball, but finding the opposing blockers and assisting the Carson hitters in avoiding any opposing barricades.
“The biggest thing for all of them is the timing of the game. I expect a really fast offense and they have to be able to set the ball in the exact spot,” said Maw. “The precision is absolutely critical.”
Maw stated after Thursday’s match he’s not looking for the ball to be simply floated through the air. He wants his setters to help push the pace and get passes out quickly.
Even with the competition for the one spot, Smith and Lemburg have both seen the strengths the other brings to the floor.
“She’s very consistent with her setting,” said Lemburg. “She’s very good at what she does.”
“She’s aggressive. She’s super quick and she connects really well with our hitters,” Smith said.
Replacing Pradere – who runs track and cross country at University of San Francisco – wasn’t going to be easy after she piled up 347 assists in her senior season, but both setters knew the competition was coming following the 2018 season.
Smith plays club volleyball in the offseason and said her free time was spent doing what she loves.
“I came a lot. What I worked on most was dedication,” said Smith. “I worked as hard as I could because I want this position so bad. I love volleyball.”
“I worked on whatever coach Maw wanted me to work on and I just did my best every day,” said Lemburg.
The determination from both athletes hasn’t missed Maw’s eyes either.
“Olivia has put in a ton (of work). Abby is starting to realize she likes it and is starting to fight for the spot,” Maw said. “Abby has been stepping up. She’s a good athlete.”
As Carson has passed the halfway point of the season, both setters are still focused on improving the little things to continue developing.
Lemburg said she’s fully committed to working on her setting while also taking reps hitting on the right side to add more depth to her game.
Smith is hoping to take a little bit of what she’s seen from her teammate and work on her aggressiveness while also trying to improve her defense.
UP NEXT: Carson will have the weekend off before trying to protect its home floor again Tuesday against Reno (9-3).