Linsenmayer Leading Voice for Volleyball Team
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When you think about sophomores and varsity sports captains, the two rarely overlap. As a sophomore, one is typically still trying to find their place on the team and maneuver into a starting role while leadership is left to seniors and the occasional junior. On the Whitman Volleyball team, however, sophomore Hannah Linsenmayer isn’t concerned with norms.
Linsenmayer is the starting libero on the team. A libero’s job is to be the team’s best defensive player, usually the first to touch the ball on a return from the opponent. By nature, she is the most mobile on the court. Linsenmayer was thrust into this starting role as a first-year because the libero before her had left the team. Linsenmayer has played this position ever since. This year, she was promoted as one of the team’s captains.
“I think as one of the younger players, I definitely have a vision for this program, and it’s nice this year to be able to enact that vision as a captain,” said Linsenmayer.
That vision for the team is one of more consistent success in the coming seasons. With a recent coaching change, the volleyball program has gone through some growing pains, but already the team looks stronger this year than it has in years past. The team endured a difficult 2-11 preseason, but Head Coach Matt Helm is happy that the team has gotten a fresh start with the beginning of conference play.
“Starting off 2-0 in conference is an excellent start for us after having a tough preseason where we were battling some injuries while also playing some really tough teams,” said Helm, who is in his second season with the Missionaries. “We played five of the top 25 teams in the nation in preseason and had a lot of injuries, so it was nice to start off well at home.”
After going 1-1 on the road the following weekend, the Missionaries are now off to a solid 3-1 start against Northwest Conference opponents. Linsenmayer has been pivotal in the Missionaries’ recent success and will continue to help the team throughout this season with her leadership and skill set.
“Her personality and her impact on our program is kind of going to set the tone for years to come. As a sophomore captain and a leader, she’s got a great volleyball IQ, and she’s very competitive,” said Helm.
Senior outside hitter Jillian Davis can attest to Linsenmayer’s prominent on-court presence.
“Hannah is a very outspoken person, and that makes her a better leader on the court,” said Davis.
Davis also spoke to Linsenmayer’s volleyball IQ, explaining how well she commands the court and can recognize the other team’s tendencies and weaknesses. Linsenmayer helps her front players know which areas are open and which are not, and though she isn’t the one finishing off rallies, she often plays a central role in vocalizing direction to the rest of the team.
Though she has already earned a leading role on the team, Linsenmayer still works hard at practice and on her own time to hone certain skills that she feels she needs to improve.
Helm also sees ways in which Linsenmayer can expand her game.
“Something we’re working on this year is broadening her compass as far as how much area she can cover on the court. The speed of the game was the biggest adjustment she had to make last season, so we’re working with her to continue to improve that,” said Helm.
As for her own strengths, the overall consensus from her coach, teammates and herself is that Linsenmayer is a huge vocal presence on the court and that she alone can change the dynamic of a team. Being that vocal leader is tough, especially for a sophomore, and the fact that Linsenmayer is assuming that role resonates with the team.
“This year I think she brings the total package of leadership qualities. She’s a person who the underclassmen or even upperclassmen can talk to, someone who is very competitive and does not like to lose, someone who is vocal and someone who wants to work hard. Hannah’s leadership ability complements the seniors really well,” said Helm. “She’s the vocal leader for this team.”