Written By: Sam Wasson and Jordan Bostic
Outside hitters are very important to any volleyball team. They will take the most swings of any of the attackers and have to be able to make good shots when balls are set poorly. In a 6-2 offense, both outside hitters (L-1 and L-2) need to be able to play both the front row and the back row. As a result, outside hitters are usually the most well-rounded players on the team. They have to be able to terminate a perfect set, better a not-so-perfect set, block, serve, play defense and pass serve receive. It’s a big job, and any offense will struggle without solid outside hitters.
Once again the left side is loaded for the Aggies. Returning senior Krista Altermatt leads a talented group on the left side. Altermatt finished third on the team last season in kills (283) and was in the Top 10 in the WAC in service aces per game (0.31 aces/game). As one of the three seniors, she'll be relied upon to get kills when the team needs them and Altermatt looks forward to filling that role of a go-to player. "I want to be that person you know is going to get the job done when it comes down to crunch time." Coach Jordan has no qualms about putting the game in Altermatt's hands either. "We feel very comfortable setting Krista when we need a kill and very comfortable that she can hit bad sets too. Out of system she attacks smarter. She's definitely going to get the call a lot." Coach Jordan feels that while Altermatt may not be the most gifted athletically, she is one of, if not the best, all around player on the squad. "Krista's a tremendous all around player. She ball handles exceptionally well, she passes great, she's a good defender and she's our toughest server and a very good attacker. She's very smart and hits the ball hard. She's not super high up in the air but she hits it hard and can hit it on a dime where she wants. Players like that are very valuable."
Jordan also added that while she possesses all those abilities, it's her confidence that sets her apart. "She's confident and she's okay with failing," said Coach Jordan. "I think to really be a go-to player, you've got to be willing to fail. You let it roll of your back when it happens. If it doesn't work out for you, you make a mistake, you get blocked, you make an error and you don't get a kill. You gave it your best effort and next time you want the ball again. That sets her apart from a lot of players, that confidence level."
Along with Altermatt, the Aggies have added another weapon on the left in the form of Kayleigh Giddens. Giddens, a 6'0" junior transfer from Frank Phillips Junior College who is expected to step in and contribute at a high level immediately. "Kayleigh is a physical specimen. She should be one of the better lefts in the conference immediately," said Jordan. "She could play for a lot of teams at a very high level. She's tall, she jumps great. She's got the best arm on the team along with Kelsey Brennan. She's a good passer and a good solid defender. She's going to be a go-to player on the left for sure."
Freshman Stephanie Ziegler also looks to make an impact for the Aggies on the left side. Ziegler hails from Tucson, Ariz. and was named the 2007 Sonoran Region 4A Player of the Year. Last year she was named to a 2008 4A Honorable Mention by the Arizona Republic and Second Team Volleyball All-Stars by the Tucson Citizen. "Steph is really athletic. I think she can see playing time this year for sure. I'm sure she will. She can play either the left or the right. Exceptional back row attacker." Jordan added, "She's only 5'9, but she skies and she's got a good arm. She's a good all around volleyball player for a freshman. She's super athletic and we're excited about her."
Also joining the team on the left side are freshmen Jessi Roberts and Ellen Miks. Miks is recovering from a torn rotator cuff suffered her senior year but could see some time as a defensive specialist for the Aggies. "She's a great serve receiver and I think one of the better all around volleyball players we've recruited here since maybe Krista." Roberts, a 6'0" athlete, hails from Lyden, Wash. where she holds the records for career aces, career kills, blocks in a single match and kills in a single match. "Jessie is a high flier. She gets way up in the air and she challenges [Whitney] Woods for biggest jump. She's got a lot of skill work that she needs to improve on but she's got a tremendous upside." Jordan added, "She is a really gifted athlete and very competitive too. I think eventually she's going to turn out to be a pretty good player."