Maroon setters keep it easy for hosts

Maroon setters keep it easy for hosts

CHAMPAIGN — The kill is an exciting volleyball statistic. To get to that stage, however, one also needs an assist.

In the case of coach Mike Deterding's Champaign Central program, he has a pair of interchangeable setters who may not grab headlines, but who play big roles in the Maroons' attack.

Seniors Michaela Patton and Lydia Roberts combined for eight helpers in Thursday's 25-15, 25-7 home win over Big 12 Conference foe Urbana, giving senior Rylee Hinton, junior Elise Bossenbroek and sophomore Mira Chopra easy pickings when it came time to wrap up points.

"It feels nice to matter, in a way — to feel valuable," Patton said after the latest triumph for the Maroons (18-3, 3-0 Big 12). "I think we click pretty well as a team this year, so that definitely helps with us getting kills and putting balls down."

First-year boss Deterding is deploying three middle blockers in a system new to Central this season, and that setup affects the setters as well.

"Mentally, it's really good for them because they have to have a picture of who's where and what are they hitting," Deterding said. "Right now, they're pretty much in sync with what the hitters are looking for."

The Tigers (4-7, 2-1) struggled with passing and finishing on the attack, as coach Erika Mennig's athletes fell behind early and couldn't get into a rhythm despite promising moments from the likes of junior Raevyn Russell, among others.

"I switched up the lineup (Wednesday), trying to adapt to our opponent," Mennig said, "and I think that it would've been fine had we not gotten down at the beginning of both sets."

The Maroons, meanwhile, have won nine consecutive tilts while losing just once in their last 17 tries.

"I think a change was maybe needed to make us go far this season," Patton said, "and I think it's definitely working for us so far."