Ella McKinney’s playmaking ability from the setter position was a bright spot during a challenging one-win season for the Lady Hub sophomore volleyball team this past season. McKinney will make the leap to the varsity team this coming season, and she’ll be looking to bring a spark off the bench with her positive attitude and her passing skills on the court.
“I feel like I improved a lot, both as a setter and an overall player,” McKinney said. “Last year gave me an opportunity to really focus on my skills and how I directly affect the game. I feel like I did well on making my sets playable for my teammates and being where I needed to be to complete our plays. I learned new plays and sets last year that really helped our team and I would like to keep improving on those while also learning new ones for the upcoming season.”
McKinney will be one of several juniors looking to step up and help the varsity team follow a historic 21-win season this past year. McKinney certainly has the experience to assist the Lady Hubs, having played volleyball since seventh grade. McKinney will have a great mentor to learn from in senior setter Clare Green, who will be playing collegiately at Cornell College next year.
“My role last season was to be the setter and a captain for the team,” McKinney said. “My responsibility as the setter was to connect the team and set my teammates up for success. We have a couple more experienced setters this year, so I think my role this year will be learning new skills and filling in wherever I’m needed. My goals for my junior year are to learn new skills and winning strategies, to improve my current skills and to have a winning season overall.”
McKinney’s tough sophomore season could prove to be a blessing in disguise. With injuries and roster rotations happening throughout the fall, McKinney was forced to adapt to multiple roles outside her traditional setter position. Those challenges, McKinney said, will help prepare not only her, but her teammates for what’s to come at the varsity level this coming season.
“I thought our challenges prepared us to not always rely on key players to be there,” McKinney said. “We had the chance to adapt and take on different roles that we wouldn’t have had the chance to do before. Volleyball doesn’t give you time to focus on your mistakes. You only have time to focus on winning the next point. Volleyball is also a team sport and everybody has an important role within the match. When one player performs well, the entire team benefits.”