Lady Hub setter Clare Green was expecting to play volleyball with girls her age when she arrived at Rochelle Township High School last year. But a quick call-up to the varsity roster made Green the lone freshman on the team, and she became an integral piece of the puzzle as Rochelle’s season progressed.
Green began the 2017 season as a reserve before earning more playing time when setter Jacie Wyatt was moved to middle blocker halfway through the fall. She was surprised to learn she was going to play varsity volleyball, but she also said she learned a lot from her first year with the Lady Hubs.
“I was expecting to be on the freshman team,” Green said. “They just told me that I was going to be with the varsity team and I was kind of in shock… I learned how important confidence is as a setter because your hitters are going to feed off how confident the setter is. The more matches I played with them, the more comfortable I felt out there.”
Green returns as Rochelle’s only sophomore on the varsity team this fall, but you wouldn’t know she’s an underclassman by watching her play. The setter has recorded 20-plus assists in almost every match this season, and some of her top performances include double-doubles in victories against Genoa-Kingston (28 assists, 12 digs) and Earlville (27 assists, 12 digs) this past week.
A player who almost never goes off the court during matches, Green has been a constant for an improved Rochelle squad that has already surpassed its win total from last season. Green said the unselfishness of her teammates and some strong leadership under first-year head coach Molly Sly have changed the atmosphere around the team.
“We’re all coming together more often,” Green said. “I felt like each player was playing for herself last year but we’re playing together to win this year. Everybody wants to win. I definitely feel like our passes have been better this year as well as our hustle to go after tough balls… Coach [Sly] is a lot stricter but we’ve accomplished a lot more and everybody knows they have to work hard in order to play.”
Green began playing volleyball in fifth grade through the Rochelle Juniors youth volleyball club. She spent three years with the organization before playing club volleyball with Fusion and middle school volleyball at Rochelle Middle School in eighth grade. She also ran track, cheered and played basketball, but she said volleyball has always been her favorite sport.
“My favorite part of volleyball is the rallies you’re in when you play against a good team,” Green said. “I really enjoy being in control of what’s going to happen next. I’m the player who decides who gets to hit the ball and where the set will go.”
When you speak with Green, you understand why she’s managed to start her sophomore season on a high note. She understands the role she plays as Rochelle’s starting setter, and she’s also aware of the techniques and the timing necessary to distribute the ball to her hitters during matches.
“I know I need to make our passes look good so our hitters can get good balls,” Green said. “I can look and feel which hitter has the most energy. We call it the ‘hot hand’ which means somebody is killing it at that moment. I look at who the other team’s blocker is because if the other team has a 6-foot-5 blocker and we don’t have much height, we won’t get around that.”
Green and her teammates have higher expectations for this season after struggling to just seven victories in 2017. Rochelle will begin its conference schedule this coming week, and the Lady Hubs are also eyeing their first win in a regional since 2012.
“We want to score at least 20 points in any game we play,” Green said. “We want to finish with a winning record this year.”