Stephanie Hunter prepares to serve. (MATTHEW KERR/BRANDON SUN)
The Crocus Plainsmen’s varsity girls volleyball team isn’t very concerned about its middle position, despite losing last year’s star starters due to graduation.
With Courtney Roberts — who will play at South Dakota State University next season — and Jodie Baker — who committed to the Brandon University Bobcats in the fall — both graduating, it will be up to Stephanie Hunter to fill in at middle, and she’s anxious for her opportunity.
"It’s really exciting to finally get the chance I worked so hard to get through the years," Hunter said.
Plainsmen head coach Trista Wenger has a lot of faith in the 6-foot-tall Hunter. She likes her young middle’s ability to attack and serve, but especially the way she blocks. Wenger gave Hunter some playing time at right side last high school season just to get her more court time.
This spring, Hunter was one of two middles featured on the Brandon-based 17U Amrak girls club team, which is also coached by Wenger. Her performance gave the Crocus bench boss even more faith in Hunter’s abilities and leadership skills.
"Her and I have had discussions about that and how we want her to be somebody the younger girls can look to for a little bit of guidance or whatever it might be," Wenger said. "She knows that’s a role that she wants to get herself into, but being younger in the group this year she didn’t necessarily get the opportunity to do that. It will be interesting to see how she works that into her game next season."
Hunter enjoyed playing middle with Amrak — which finished fourth at the provincials 17U girls championship last weekend in Brandon — and trying to be a leader on the team. Those are skills she’ll try to use in the fall with the Plainsmen.
Even though the 16-year-old Grade 11 student is hoping to make the Plainsmen her team next season, she knows a lot of the credit for her skills go to Baker and Roberts, the two players she looked up to for the past couple of seasons.
"They taught me lots of stuff," Hunter said. "Not just skills, but motivational stuff and what’s going on in your head. They definitely showed me how to do my different hits and they were really supportive. … When I showed up on varsity, they were definitely a lot better than me, but they’re the ones who helped me get to where I am."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 9, 2012