Robert E. Lee senior Kalloway Hudson knew something was up when head coach Melissa Lee asked her to work with the setters at volleyball camp.
“I kind of had the feeling that I was going to have to set and it was kind of nerve-racking,” said Hudson, who had 141 kills last year as an outside hitter.
“The setter is kind of the leader of the team and that is stressful because everyone depends on me to set the tempo.”
Unforeseen transfers in the summer left REL without its top middle blocker, one of its best outside hitters — and most worryingly, its setter.
Through 32 matches this season, Hudson has surpassed her kills total from a year ago, but is also on pace for 450 assists.
“Since we lost Rilee (Miller), she and Melissa Menard (320 assists) have had to step up and fill that spot,” Lee said. “Melissa has always been a setter, but Kalloway hadn’t set for a couple years, so she really had to work.”
Hudson, who enters Friday’s clash at Longview with 163 kills and 396 assists, said she had to start back with the basics. That meant high outside sets which provided the most room for error. As the games progressed and Hudson’s confidence grew, she began to add more to her repertoire.
“I probably hadn’t set a ball in two years and now it’s actually gotten a lot better,” Hudson said. “Me and Mallory (Kuechle) have a real good connection with the shoot set and Rachel (Johnston) and I have the back quick set. I haven’t really made many connections with the middle yet, but I am working on that.”
Kuechle leads the Lady Raiders with 293 kills while Johnston is second at 167 kills.
Hudson is following the example set by former Lady Raider Sarah Sivertson. An All-East Texas honoree for her prowess at the net, Sivertson was approached by Coach Lee prior to her junior season and asked to move to setter to replace Heidi Buckley, who had graduated.
Sivertson sacrificed kill stats, but her multifaceted play caught the eye of Sienna College.
Sienna recruited and eventually signed the 5-10 Sivertson, not as a hitter, but as a setter. The junior is now Sienna’s starting setter and has 239 assists in 12 matches.
Hudson is one of two setters, along with the Menard, but her offense enables Hudson to be on the floor for all six rotations.
“It’s definitely increased my stats,” Hudson said. “If I don’t get kills, I am still (recognized) for my assists.
“It also gives me a lot more playing time. I am always on the floor and I like it a lot better than coming on the court and off the court because it keeps you (focused).”
The Lady Raiders (20-12, 1-1 in 11-5A) dropped their first district game Tuesday at DeSoto and will look to rebound against Longview. The match is slated to start at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Lobo Coliseum.