Cougar of the Week: Rachel Spera

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Image: www.clarkathletics.com

The volleyball players who spike the ball and rack up kills are often the ones who get the most attention, but the player setting those spikes up is equally important. Senior captain Rachel Spera has been setting up spikes at Clark for four years now, and she is one of the best at what she does. She is averaging 7.47 assists per set, for fifth in the NEWMAC this year.

 

Scarlet: You’ve been near the top in assists per set this year. You had 33 assists against Wheaton. What do you attribute to getting all of these assists?

 

Rachel: Definitely my passers. My passers this year are incredible, so I would not be able to do this without them. And my hitters are the ones that give me the assists. They have to get the kills, so it’s definitely a team effort.

Scarlet: You’ve had a lot of different players step up this season. How has it been different to have a lot of people to assist to?

 

Rachel: It’s actually made the team a lot closer, which helps us win. And it makes it more fun. When everyone’s playing their best game, it’s a lot more fun and we’re going to end up winning. Individually, we have to step up, but once were all there on the same page, it makes a big difference.

 

Scarlet: Have you always been the setter of the team?

 

Rachel: Yes. I always have been. I started my freshman year and I played ever since. So I’ve always been the main setter on the team.

 

Scarlet: Did you play setter in high school?

 

Rachel: I was not a setter at first, actually. One of the girls on the team was asked to be setter, and she quit. Then I was asked to be setter, and I found out that I loved it.

 

Scarlet: What about being the setter do you like?

 

Rachel: I love being kind of like the quarterback of the team. I like being the one who talks to passers and then talks to the hitters. I’m kind of like the glue. And I love being able to run different plays, and see the whole court.

 

Scarlet: Do you think your role as a setter has increased responsibility now that you’re a senior?

 

Rachel: Yeah. I’ve had to learn a lot. It’s not easy being a setter. You have to learn how to be intense, and what your team needs, and how to be positive, and when to say certain things at certain times. So now that I’m a senior, I’ve definitely learned how to best talk to my team. I definitely mess up sometimes, and my teammates definitely tell me.

 

Scarlet: In what regard?

 

Rachel: Sometimes I’ll get too intense and too excited about a certain play, and they’ll be like, “Okay, Rachel. Settle down girl.” But I’m finally reaching my peak and where I want to be.

Scarlet: How do your leadership skills compare to years past?

 

Rachel: I used to think that being intense and being loud was the right way. I’ve really thought about my teammates and what they thought. And after talking to them last year, I realized that the way that I was on the court was actually not helping us win games. It was probably hurting the team, and I had to change that. I feel that having them support me, I’ve been able to become a better leader and a better setter on the court. And I think that’s translated into [success] this season.

 

Scarlet: Great, I’m sure it’s especially important to have those skills since the setter is usually the emotional leader.

Rachel: Right, so keeping that constant, “everything is okay, guys,” positive attitude is very important.

 

Scarlet: Are you beating teams that you did not beat in previous seasons?

Rachel: We’re beating teams that we have beaten normally, and teams that we haven’t. We beat Salve Regina, and they were 19-1. We beat them in four sets, which was super exciting. We have never beat them in the four years I’ve been here until this year. So now they have two losses (laughs).

Scarlet: What are some important games coming up?

 

Rachel: [We play] Emerson on Saturday. If we win, and Wheaton loses to Babson, we will be going to the playoffs which is so exciting. We haven’t done that in the last two years, so it would be really great to go this year.