By Gregg A. Sims
Washington Times Herald
Loogootee junior Abby Ackerman has not been alone. She’s just one of three players who have learned a new position for the Lions this fall.
But she was a bit late coming to the party. It appears her teammates have not complained.
The Class A No. 3 Lions entered the volleyball season missing an entire back row lost to graduation. Ackerman had spent most of her time on the front line as a hitter and blocker.
But when libero Lauren Bowling was lost with a thumb injury, and other players working to fill the positions lost to graduation from the semistate final team of 2011,
Ackerman was moved back to the line.
Ackerman had been spending her time as a left side hitter before Bowling injured her thumb in an accident.
“It was really very challenging,” Ackerman said of the move to the back. “Everyone back there has really never played varsity back there before. We had a whole new, fresh, back row, with the exception of Demi (Richardson), but she’s really a setter. It was completely new, but I like it. It’s interesting.”
Reading a developing play is very important at the back.
Reading blockers, their position at the net, and angles that are left to the floor for hitters is paramount.
“I was having to read the ball and be fast on my feet,” Ackerman said. “I had to learn how to be quick. You have to be very active. Sometimes you catch yourself not in the right position, but if you are, you should be in the right position, unless there is a big, huge powerhouse in the middle that just annihilates the ball.”
The Lions have the advantage of having some of that offensive power. While Michala Beasley and Christina Ziegler fill the bill as offensive weapons, Ackerman has some power of her own.
Still, she is accepting of having Ziegler and Beasley often at the point of attack, despite still enjoying hitting.
“We have two six-foot players that we are going to go to, and I’m 100 percent behind that,” Ackerman said. “I try to do my job, play the back row, work on my serve and not make mistakes. I can hit the ball pretty well.”
“I love hitting,” Ackerman said. “Because of my height, people don’t always expect me to be able to hit the ball hard. I think I can do a pretty good job of getting the ball down.”
Ackerman even admits a fondness for passing learned this season.
“It’s really a lot of pressure because the entire dynamic of your game is off passing,” Ackerman said. “If your team is not passing the ball, you’re probably not going to win. Without good passing, you can’t get a good set. And without a good set, you can’t get a good hit. Our front line is very good, and we have good passing.”
Still there’s always time for a nice hit every now and then.
“I still get my chances when we run a good set,” Ackerman said. “I get some good chances from the sides. But I still enjoy passing.”
Playing defense from the back was also a change that took time. Ackerman believes she has learned a lot, but still has improvement to make.
“I’ve improved, but I would like to improve more,” she said.
With the tournament just around the corner, Ackerman believes the Lions simply must be themselves at Muncie Saturday against Cowan.
“The last game of the season against Trinity Lutheran was important,” Ackerman said. “I think that it felt like we really meshed in the game just before the tournament. Everything came together. I think we’ve peaked at the right time. We just have to play our game. If we do, everything will take care of itself.”