It’s a volleyball question for which there may be no simple answer: Who benefits more in a setter/hitter relationship?
Perhaps there isn’t an either/or answer. It’s a symbiotic relationship.
Behind the hitter who wows the crowd with a thunderous kill is a setter who directed the ball in the right place. Neither can get the desired result without the other.
“The hitter always looks good,” Mattituck coach Frank Massa said. “They look good whipping shots over the net and making that loud sound coming off the floor or somebody’s arm, and the setter is the one that set the plate on that one, putting it on a tee.
“I’ve always looked at setters as really the most important part of the team because you could have the greatest hitters in the world, but if you can’t get them the ball in good shape, then we’re not going to be able to take big rips at them.”
So very true. Without a capable setter, the best of hitters become nothing more than ornaments.
Mattituck is fortunate to have a first-choice setter, Ashley Young, whose talents make good use of the Tuckers’ big swingers. Young, a senior in her third varsity season, is the only returning starter from the 2019 team playing the same position she played that year. She brings valuable experience and stability — along with her spring-loaded hands — to a largely changed, young team.
Young’s 15 assists set up four teammates for kills in a 25-14, 25-16, 25-21 defeat of visiting Babylon in Suffolk County League VI play Saturday morning. Sage Foster, striking the ball with authority, was the beneficiary of eight of those assists, putting away 14 kills for first-place Mattituck (9-1, 9-1).
“I love how she kills the ball,” Young said. “It’s so amazing.”
Half of Bridget Ryan’s eight kills were set up by Young.
“I think today worked out pretty well,” Young said. “I think our passing was good and so our setting was good and our hitting was good. So, I think everything just came together perfect.”
Foster, a sophomore outside hitter talented in her own right, called Young “a great setter.” Foster said when Young is on the court “I feel more confident that we can get a lot more swings if she’s there than if she’s not there.”
It appears Mattituck is all set at setter, with sophomore Emma McGunnigle and junior Lilly Fogarty providing more depth at the position.
Massa said Mattituck had previously employed a 6-2 offensive system, playing with two setters, before switching to a 5-1 with one setter (Young) as the playoffs approach. “Now, my other two girls are also setting, and they’re doing a very good job with it,” he said. “It’s just that Ashley has three years of varsity experience and she knows how things work since she just has more court time. The other two girls are starting to get a lot of court time and they’re seeing how it’s done and they’ll be able to step into that role.”
Young, a reliable server (15-for-16 with two aces against Babylon), also recognizes opportunities when she sees them, pushing three balls over the net for kills.
Mattituck came out strong, taking an 8-0 lead in the first set and building a 23-9 cushion in the second. Babylon (2-5, 2-5) didn’t take its first lead until a Sarah Womack kill made it 5-4 in the third set. Despite some third-set hiccups, the Tuckers held on, with a tip at the net by Abby Woods ending it.
The Tuckers picked up 11 aces (four by Ryan) on 90.5% serving. Babylon put 84.6% of its serves in play and had 25 hitting errors, eight more than Mattituck. All 14 Tuckers played.
Young understands that offense is a three-step process — an accurate pass leads to a well-placed set, which could lead to a hard-driven ball. “To get a hit, you have to have a good set, so just having a good set makes me kind of satisfied because it will bring a good hit,” she said.
As to who benefits more in a setter/hitter relationship, Young said: “I think if the set’s great, the hit will be great. I think it’s kind of mutual.”
In the end, Mattituck has been the big winner.