Pitching in | Manatee's New Setter Saylor Draws on Her Experience on the Softball Mound

By Lembo, John | Sarasota Herald Tribune, September 14, 2016 | Go to article overview

Pitching in | Manatee's New Setter Saylor Draws on Her Experience on the Softball Mound


Lembo, John, Sarasota Herald Tribune


HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS VOLLEYBALL

BRADENTON -- When it came to adjusting to her new role on the volleyball court, Kara Saylor was able to draw inspiration from another sporty setting:

The softball diamond.

Saylor is Manatee High's new setter while Gabby Coulter, a three- year varsity starter, heals from the left ankle injury she suffered last week against Sarasota. Coulter's foot was in a boot Tuesday night during the Hurricanes' match with Palmetto, leaving Saylor in charge of running the offense.

Saylor wound up tallying 16 assists during a 25-5, 25-8, 25-14 win over the Tigers. More importantly, she began to feel more comfortable in replacing Coulter, who has to spend the next three weeks in the boot.

"I'm getting to know the hitters a lot more," Saylor said. "It definitely flowed a lot better (Tuesday)."

Saylor stepped in as Manatee's setter last weekend during a tournament in Orlando. Prior to that, however, she hadn't played the

position since she was a seventh-grader at Bradenton Christian.

"It's very different. I realized it's way quicker," said Saylor, a junior who usually plays libero. "At BCS, I played varsity for them when I was really young, but it's way quicker here. I was definitely not in shape for that. It was easier said than done, for sure."

When she isn't setting up hitters on the volleyball court, Saylor is trying to get them out while pitching for her travel ball team. Similar to pitches, setters can control the flow of the game and touch the ball during every play, and Saylor is looking to use those parallels to her advantage.

"A lot of pressure is put on pitchers," Saylor said. "I like to think that helps me mentally stay strong because (setting) is a lot of pressure. I'd say pitching kind of relates to setting in volleyball -- all the eyes are on you."

One of the few Hurricanes to play all three sets Tuesday, Saylor added six aces and helped Grayson Hall to a team-best seven kills.

"Kara set way better (Tuesday) than she did at the end of the tournament," said Manatee coach Tony Cothron. "People make comments about, 'Set me here, set me there.' But until you get put into that setter's position, you don't know how difficult it really is. She found out real quick. So it was more of her taking a step back and saying, 'I can do this. …

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