Chesterton Tribune



CHS Volleyball opens tonight

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School started early this year for the Chesterton volleyball team as second-year coach Luke Starkey has made the sport a numbers game for the Trojans.

Starkey hasn’t gone full-on “Moneyball” with his approach to the 2017 volleyball season, but after a recent trip to the Notre Dame team camp last month, the Trojans are approaching the game from a statistical background.

“It was three days of nonstop information,” Starkey said of the Notre Dame camp that unofficially kicked off the season. “Everything was standardized.”

That implementation process has taken some time and Starkey has relied on a lot of numbers to make it make sense to not only his players, but to himself as well.

“I went back and watched every single game that we played last year and I took notes, trying to find some trends,” Starkey said. “They’re there, the trends. Through use of statistics, we can figure out how to get better.”

Starkey teaches history, economics and psychology and spends a lot of time looking at data and numbers. He’s simply taken that analytical approach and applied it to the game of volleyball. Once he learned information at Notre Dame, such as utilizing a four-step approach when getting ready to hit, he went back to the film and crunched some numbers. Everything began to make sense and then it began to find its way to the practice floor.

“Things were different at Notre Dame,” Starkey said. “They said you can do your own thing, but when you’re here, you’re doing it our way. They weren’t just telling us how to do it, they were showing us the research and evidence for why it was better.”

Starkey knew he could try and reinvent the wheel with Sabermetrics all he wanted, but unless his players understood what he was selling, it would be for naught. A trio of seniors -- Kristin Stillman, Ginger Hedrick and Ella Whitmore Ð have led the charge and the younger players have followed suit.

“Our players have bought into everything we learned and now we’re implementing a lot of that information,” Starkey said.

Stillman led the Trojans in kills last season and was among team leaders in digs. The outside hitter should shine in her final season while Hedrick will patrol the middle of the net. Whitmore will serve as setter and play the outside.

The Trojans have seven juniors on the roster this year and a handful already have varsity experience including middle hitter Ariel Rohe, outside hitter Taylor Bowser and defensive specialist Lorann Lombardini. Many of the juniors can play all the way around the court, including right side attacker Paige Seely and outside hitter Kylie Vendramin. Caroline Parks has emerged as a long, athletic middle hitter while Sammy Devereaux is a former setter that has converted to defensive specialist. Olivia Smilgius is the lone sophomore on varsity and Starkey can already see that the setter is becoming a team leader.

“Looking at where we’re at in the conference, it’s not only how are we going to beat Crown Point, but how are we going to compete with Crown Point,” Starkey said. “Let’s use statistics and see if it helps. We’re making simple movements with statistics and the girls have bought it. Let’s see what happens.”


Posted 8/15/2017




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