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Getting Set: Croyle Taking on New, Familiar Role as Union Volleyball Readies to Compete

RIMERSBURG, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Keira Croyle has always longed for the days of being a setter again.

It’s been a while.

(Above photo are the Union seniors, from left: Hailey Kriebel, Dominika Logue, and Keira Croyle)

In junior high, she was a setter — and quite a good one, too. It was a position where she flourished and a position that she loved.

But, when she got to high school at Union and began playing varsity volleyball for the Damsels, being a setter wasn’t in her plans. Being a dominant force at the net was, and Croyle served that role well over the last three seasons.

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.

Still, she always hoped to get the opportunity to pile up assists instead of kills again.

“Setting is probably my favorite position to play,” Croyle said. “I’ve always loved it. But, I like hitting, too. It doesn’t bother me to switch it up now and then.”

Now a senior, the 5-foot-8 Croyle will have to dust off those setting skills — at least part of the time.

Union coach Corri Shumaker plans on using two setters this season — Croyle and Grace Kindel. Croyle will set for three rotations and Kindel for the other three.

Croyle is ecstatic.

“I was pretty prepared to be the setter,” Croyle said. “I was hoping to go into the season playing the setting position.”

Croyle and Kindel will replace Morgan Cumberland, who was a mainstay as a setter for Union for the last three seasons. Cumberland graduated and Shumaker was looking to fill that void.

Shumaker knew Croyle had set before, but also didn’t want to lose her power at the net.

“She’s a strong hitter — she really is,” Shumaker said of Croyle. “That’s why I want to utilize her on the right side. She’s a little rusty — it’s been a couple of years — but we’re working on it.”

Croyle admits it’s been a process — after all, it’s been more than four years since she’s used those setting skills. But, Croyle dedicated herself to getting back up to speed as a setter this offseason, putting in hours of work in open gyms, practices, and even at home.

“I did a lot of setting drills,” Croyle said. “We’d scrimmage with each other, practice with the hitters, just work on it over and over. I think I’m getting there.”

What helps Croyle as a setter is her experience as a hitter. She has a unique perspective because she has played at the net for so long. She has a different appreciation for what makes a good set.

“It helps me know how a good set should be for a nice hit,” Croyle said. “I know what kind of set I like, and that helps me as a setter to know what height to get it at, position, stuff like that.”

Croyle also has developed a good relationship with senior Dominka Logue, who will be one of Union’s more potent offensive threats this season.

“I pretty much know her down pat,” Croyle said. “I know exactly what she likes from a set. That’s the most challenging thing about setting is knowing where the hitters like it. That all depends on the passes and how I am able to get the perfect set off of it.”

Union was 6-8 last season, but has a good amount of talent back from that team.

Hailey Kriebel is also back as a middle hitter for the Damsels.

What is challenging Union is the gauntlet they have to run on a yearly basis, playing powers like Clarion, Redbank Valley, and A-C Valley each year.

“We’re just trying to be as optimistic as possible,” Shumaker said. “We have a mix of older and some younger girls. Hopefully, the younger ones can get a little more experience with the older ones. I have three starters who didn’t really see a lot of varsity time last year.”

Croyle said the team played well after a slow start against Moniteau in a recent scrimmage.

She thinks how close the team is can help Union surprise this season.

“Every time we mess up, we don’t get down on each other. We just keep pushing,” Croyle said. “We stay together as a team, constantly work together and pick each other up. As long as we keep doing that, we’ll be OK.”

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.