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College volleyball: Lady Jays have the right stuff against A-R

BY AARON HAGEN The Globe WORTHINGTON -- Emily Shaffer is left-handed. She writes with her left hand. She shoots a basketball with her left hand. But when the Minnesota West sophomore winds up to unleash a spike on the volleyball court, she uses h...

Lady Jays vs Anoka 2 web.jpg
Lady Jays head volleyball coach Brittney McNab (third from left) discusses strategy with her players Friday night. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

BY AARON HAGEN

The Globe

WORTHINGTON -- Emily Shaffer is left-handed.

She writes with her left hand. She shoots a basketball with her left hand.

But when the Minnesota West sophomore winds up to unleash a spike on the volleyball court, she uses her right arm.

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“That’s just how I was taught, I guess,” Shaffer said. “I never liked to speak up about being left-handed because I felt like I would be judged.”

At one point, Shaffer said she tried to switch to her left, but decided against it.

“I’ve tried and it didn’t go so well,” she said. “I think it’s more muscle memory in my right arm from playing so much that I just naturally swing right handed.”

The sophomore on Minnesota West’s volleyball team used that powerful right arm to put away 10 kills in the Lady Jays’ sweep of Anoka-Ramsey on Friday.

“We played well,” Shaffer said. “I think we dropped down to their level a little bit. I think we could have played a lot better than we did. We are a lot better than we showed tonight.”

Game scores were 25-11, 25-11 and 25-14.

“We had a long week of working out kinks and this probably wasn’t the game we wanted to finish the week with, but we finished the week with a win,” MW head coach Brittney McNab said. “There was a lot of little things we could have done better here to keep us going in the right direction.”

Friday was McNab’s first home match as the interim head coach, and just her second overall. But she is no stranger to the West gym, having played two years -- and being a two-time All-American setter.

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“It’s my home away from home,” McNab said. “I loved it here.”

West started quick against the Golden Rams, as it took an 20-9 lead in the first game.

“We had a lot of energy,” Shaffer said. “We were super pumped. It’s been a week and a half since we played last, so we were super excited to get out there and play in front of everybody again.”

The second game was close early, as the Rams were within five, 13-8. Behind a pair of kills from Andrea Hinkeldey (17 kills, four blocks), West pulled away for a 25-11 win.  

“We kind of fell backwards on our heels. We were sluffing off, we were just playing to their level,” McNab said. “We put the ball away. When we had opportunities, we put the ball away, definitely. We have a nucleus, we just need to keep them building and growing and everybody growing with them.”

The third game was also close as a Hinkeldey kill gave the Lady Jays a 10-8 advantage. However, from there, the Rams scored just six more points as MW completed the sweep.

“I think we have a lot of confidence in each other and we trust each other,” Shaffer said. “So if Haley (Unke) sets the ball to somebody, we trust that she’s going to get it to them. I think that helps us drive us to success.”

Unke finished with 31 set assists, while Kiana Leighty had 10 digs and five kills.

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Lady Jays vs Anoka web.jpg
Minnesota West volleyball player Kiana Leighty (7) leaps up to deliver a spike against Anoka-Ramsey's Helen Rasmussen (2) and Katie Smieja. (Tim Middagh / The Globe)

Related Topics: COLLEGE VOLLEYBALL
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