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Left-handed hitters for Calhoun, East give opponents a different look

By By Will Brown - WBROWN@VICAD.COM
Oct. 2, 2011 at 5:02 a.m.

PHOTOS BY TODD KRAININ

Jordan Edison says it's odd to stare across a volleyball net and see another left-handed hitter warming up.

"You notice they are a little different," said the Calhoun outside hitter.

It takes one to know one.

When the Sandies host Victoria East on Friday night, there may be some double-takes on both sides of the net as both teams have left-handed players. Edison and setter Jayda Barton will be in black, while East will counter with senior hitters Katie Williams and Bianca Trevino.

"We have played them multiple times over the summer and last year," Williams said. "I don't think that will be an issue. We're used to seeing the swing of people. We will adjust."

Left-handers force defenses to change up their blocking because hitters like Edison, Williams and Trevino are hitting from the other side of their body, at least two feet away from where teams are expecting them to strike. Also, left-handed players have more offensive options when attempting kills from the right side of the court.

Williams and Trevino are outside hitters, while Edison is a right sided hitter and a middle blocker. Offensively, the difference is in the type of passes they receive from their setters.

A common play for a middle blocker is a quick set, where the middle blocker jumps before the setter receives the ball, and the setter sets the ball directly into the hitters hand for a high-percentage attack attempt when done properly.

"Running quick sets with right-handed people or sometimes running plays with them they will shoot them out too far, and I will feel I can get to them, but they are for a right-handed person," Edison said. "It feels awkward to be in the middle when we are running plays."

Edison said her key to defending any hitter, but specifically someone who is left-handed, is to watch the rotation of their shoulders as well as the way they approach the ball before attacking.

"When you don't come across a left-handed person it is different," said East volleyball coach Jamye Pauley. "Their timing is different because the ball has to come across their body. It's not something everyone is used to seeing. When you have that, it's somewhat of a shock factor."

Pauley, who played with a left-handed setter at Texas Tech, remembers how difficult it was trying to defend former Nebraska All-American Sarah Pavan. Pauley complimentarily called Pavan "a beast," adding that her being left-handed was yet another advantage she had over opponents.

Whatever advantage East and Calhoun have over opponents usually does not last long. Williams said opponents quickly make adjustments, so by the second game the novelty has worn off.

Trevino and Edison are all naturally left-handed. Williams, like tennis champion Rafael Nadal and golf champion Phil Mickelson, is right handed, but plays her sport with her left.

"They tried teaching me right handed and they realized that's not working," said Williams, who started playing volleyball in fifth grade. "I don't know how it got started, but I started hitting left-handed and it was better than my right. .It was hard at first because all my coaches would show everyone how to hit and then come to me. They would show me and say 'do the opposite of what I'm doing.'"

The current president and an estimated 10 percent of the populace are left handed. So were Mark Twain, Beethoven and Charlie Chaplin.

Edison cannot recall a match where her opponent had two left handed players, while Williams stated that of the 29 matches her team has played this year only three have had at least one southpaw.

Before East or Calhoun can think about Friday's unique match, both have big district matches Tuesday night. The Sandies host Victoria West, while the Titans host Gregory-Portland. Calhoun coach Virginia Parsons and Pauley both said their teams are taking this season one game at a time.

Whatever the lefty quartet is able to produce Friday, will not be a surprise to either school. To them, it's just another volleyball match.

Parsons said "sometimes in the past they might have worried about what the other team is going to do during the game and not one what we can do."

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