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Volleyball beats Columbia in a 3-2 set. Credit: Jong Hoon Kim , Jong Hoon Kim

Excellent middle blocking is integral to any successful volleyball team. With Susan Stuecheli as captain, the Quakers are already have way there.

“The team’s looking really good this year,” senior captain Stuecheli noted. “We have a great dynamic and team chemistry that I don’t think we’ve ever had before. The whole team is as close as we’ve ever been.”

Part of Stuecheli’s job as a middle and as a captain is to both literally and figuratively hold the various components of the team together.

On the literal side, a middle blocker is tasked with standing at the middle of the court at the net, and blocking the opposing team’s hitters. They need to be strong, big and consistent in order to help set up the defense.

Figuratively, Stuecheli’s captainship calls for her to be the glue that holds this edition of the Quakers together. Leading the team by the example of her consistently strong play, being a positive voice in the locker room and letting her three years of experience guide high intensity situations are all duties Stuecheli will be counted on to help the 2013 Quakers.

Head coach Kerry Carr is confident in her middle’s ability.

“Having Susan middle blocking is great because there’s not much left to teach,” Carr said. “Especially with our two setters last year being freshmen and them developing, that whole connection is going very well.”

Stuecheli realizes that her play will affect both sides of the court.

“I see myself bringing another strong year of blocking,” Stuecheli said. “I’m hoping to continue where I left off last year, and build on that. I need to be consistent, which will make the defense’s job a lot easier.”

Carr has already noticed growth in her captain, and not only when it comes to her on-court production.

“I think where she’s grown the most is in her leadership,” Carr remarked. “Last year she was captain, and now that she’s a senior and a captain again, she’s in charge of the team and well respected, and that’s huge.”

One way Stuecheli has been able to gain that respect is through the genial personality referenced by Carr earlier, in addition to the trust she places in her teammates.

“Every single middle on this team has a chance to give something to the team in terms of blocking,” Stuecheli said when asked about her fellow middles. “Every single one is strong and athletic and is capable of being a consistent blocker for this team. I can see us using every middle at some point.”

Uplifting her teammates, in addition to setting a standard of productive excellence, is what Stuecheli brings.

“She is someone that is very well liked,” Carr said. “She’s a peacekeeper of the team. Sometimes being a leader is difficult because she has to go out of her natural personality to tell people what to do or get mad at them but I think she’s got a really good balance of that.”

In terms of team success, perhaps Stuecheli’s most effectual task will be to help develop the second middle blocker. Carr noted that it was an area of weakness last year, and needs some improvement moving forward.

“I think coach has many, many options for lineups because everyone on the team is so strong right now,” Stuecheli said. “She can put middles on the right side, middles in the middle … she can basically do anything she wants and play around with it because everyone is capable of playing multiple positions and doing them well.”

Making sure this versatility translates into strong and consistent play at the other middle blocker position bodes well for the Quakers this season and in the team’s future after Stuecheli graduates.


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