Visser’s a can’t-misser for BHS spikers
Written by: Joel Priest
Those who gain victory over themselves will gain victory over others.
Throw a Lady Wolverines’ volleyball jersey on this quote from Buddha, and you get…
Senior Jennifer Visser.
She can set, but she might not be the setter. Newcomer Gabriella Rifilato’s got that gig.
She can dig, but as a libero again? Veteran Mandy Yarina’s likely pulled that job.
She can hit from the outside? After hinting at it during last year’s Intermountain League Tournament, she’s eager to prove she can do it full-time.
“Playing outside hitter will definitely be a change,” Visser said Tuesday evening, “since defense really is my thing. But I should get a lot of action both ways now, offensively and defensively. So I’m looking forward to it.”
And if she can gain victory over all that, bet on a loaded Bayfield team to blow up in 2007.
Potentially speaking, Rheanna Moe and Jessica Houtz should again control the net in the middle, Rifilato should handle the distribution chores, Yarina and Kayla Friedley should provide solid passing and defense, and Visser and Jordan Hardy should be able to fire from the flanks.
A lot of ‘shoulds’ in there, but a world of possibilities for head coach Kelley Rifilato if all the lessons are learned properly.
In theory, you could see BHS lining up in everything offensively from a 5-1, to a 4-2 (two setters opposite each other in a rotation), or even a lesser-known 3-3 (three hitters, three setters) formation to really confuse their enemy.
“We definitely have a strong team this year,” said Visser, “and I know we’ll do well.”
Playing during the off-season for the Four Corners VBC 17-1 team — one of the ten best club squads in the USA Volleyball Sun Country Region this year—Visser, along with Gabriella Rifilato, stepped her game up in a way few Lady Wolverine players have before: nationally.
After the FCVBC team placed second in their division at the SURVA (Sun Country Region Volleyball Association) Regionals held in El Paso, Texas, during the first week of May, Visser, Rifilato, and Durango senior Jessica Wilson were all selected to represent the region at the July 22-26 USAV High Performance Championships in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
“It was kind of funny,” said Visser. “If we’d have won the regional, we’d have gone to the nationals [in Minneapolis, Minn.] the next month. And as it turns out, the team that beat us—they had three players selected to play with us in Florida!”
So along with West Texas Juniors 17-1 Burn members Kristen Beck, Kylie Cowan (both of Odessa HS) and Audrey Keate (Midland Lee HS), and Midland Chaos’ Cara Hale (also of Lee), Diamondback VBC 16 Black’s Cadyn Crawford (home-schooled), and El Paso Sunspots’ Julia Lopez (El Paso Burges HS), the collective swarmed into the Broward County Convention Center.
But things didn’t go the way the SURVA stars had hoped.
“Oh wow…you could tell some of those teams had played together forever!” said Visser. “I mean, we were leaders on our different club teams and we had a lot of variety of talent, but….”
“We were a bit in over our heads,” commented coach Kellie Ryan, normally an assistant at University of Texas-El Paso. “We played in the highest division for the age bracket because the 2006 team placed second in the lower bracket, therefore moving us up in 2007.”
Thrown into the International Youth division’s ‘A’ pool to start, Sun Country was in for a rough ride against USA Select White, Florida Red, Puerto Rico Select A, Badger Region [Wisconsin], and Southern California, in that order over the first three days.
When pool play ended, Sun Country stood sixth with an 0-5 match record and 1-15 game record.
“I think the problem was we didn’t have time to mesh as a team,” said Visser. “There were teams from all over the country and other places, and you know, some of those girls might end up on the U.S. National Team in the Olympics or something!”
Meshing during the virtual wars of attrition however, Sun Country managed a lone victory on the national stage, stopping Puerto Rico Select B 25-15, 19-25, 26-24, 28-26, in a seeding match after pool play. Finally, playing in the ‘bronze’ bracket—but without a shot at a medal of the same or different color—Visser’s team was eliminated by the New Zealand Youth National Team in a four-game battle 24-26, 18-25, 25-21, 23-25.
Team USA Select Blue, boosted by 5A [Aurora] Grandview’s 6’4” middle Erica Denney, swept Select White in three to earn the IY division gold, while the bronze eventually went to SoCal after a four-gamer against North Texas. So comparatively speaking, out of probably the most difficult starting circumstances, Sun Country didn’t do all that bad and Visser realized it.
“It was intimidating, but it was still very cool,” she said. “We practiced and played in college-type gyms with a lot of college coaches watching, and just met so many different people.”
“Jennifer was our libero for most our matches,” said Ryan, “and did an excellent job. Her positive personality and desire to succeed was beneficial, and it was a pleasure to coach her and all the Colorado kids.”
“It definitely prepared me for this high school season in that I had to think and move faster all the time. Now I can’t wait to put it all together and get back out on the court again!”
Gaining victory over self, as it were, then gaining victory over others.
Sounds like a winning philosophy.
The wait for the Bayfield Lady Wolverines finally ends today, when they compete in the two-day Adams State College Grizzly Invitational in Alamosa, which they dominated last year.