On every team, every player has some responsibility. Some have more than others. In volleyball, the setter plays that lead roll.
Spartan volleyball Coach Chuck Erbe describes the setter position as similar to other sports positions often mentioned in the same breath as leadership.
Its like the quarterback in football and the point guard in basketball, Erbe said. Everybody realizes that this position pretty much controls what takes place with the team.
And Erbe said hes glad he has sophomore Nikki Colson in control for the next three years.
Colson has the potential to be one of the best setters Erbes ever had, he said.
She just has a lot of gifts, Erbe said. Shes physically gifted. Shes mentally gifted. Shes emotionally strong.
She could be one of the best I have ever coached. She is the whole package that you look for in her position.
Colson knew going into the season that being the starting setter meant added leadership responsibilities.
Being a setter you have to be a leader and to be able to communicate with all your players, motivate them and put demands on them, Colson said.
And apparently she is. During the spring volleyball season, her teammates displayed their trust in her by voting her co-captain with senior defensive specialist Lisa Ashton.
Off the court, Colson has stepped up her leadership as well, working with the middle blockers before practice to perfect their timing. She and Ashton also ran summer conditioning workouts and open gyms.
Last spring, I think I was a little overwhelmed with it all, Colson said. But now that we have gotten into the swing of things this season, being a captain is coming more naturally.
Not only does Colson bring her leadership skills, but also has experience at the nationally competitive club level.
She also knows how to win.
Colson led her Pius X High School team in Lincoln, Neb., to three consecutive state titles.
But as a freshman, two experienced senior setters overshadowed Colsons abilities. Although she played in 18 games, her role was usually limited.
Since her promotion to captain, senior outside hitter Erin Hartley said Colsons confidence has risen.
She pretty much runs the team out there, Hartley said.
And Hartley said taking orders from someone two years younger isnt an issue.
She has a great work ethic and she can relate to both the younger players and the older players, Hartley said. She has both age groups respect.
Junior middle blocker Angela Morley said Colson is a sophomore by title only.
Shes a great captain, she said. I dont look at her as a sophomore, I look at her as an upperclassman.
On a team with seven freshmen, Colson has also embraced the role of teacher both on and off the court.
Nikki has set pretty high standards for the freshmen and for the rest of the team, freshman outside hitter Diana Steplyk said. She sets a good example of what she wants this team to be.
And thats a winning one - an attitude that seems to be spreading throughout the team.
She knows how to win and she knows that everyone needs to have a certain attitude to win, Steplyk said. She shows us that winning attitude, and we all cant help but catch it.