CARPENTERSVILLE – Cassy Sivesind entered games sporadically last year, a sophomore on an up-and-coming Crystal Lake South volleyball roster.
Sivesind carried a quiet confidence, studying the Gators’ hitters and memorizing the offense. When she had her chances, Sivesind made them count and opponents took note. But it’s not just working hard that has helped Sivesind become one of the area’s most accurate setters.
Sivesind has instincts that cannot be coached, South coach Jorie Fontana noted after South defeated Dundee-Crown on Oct. 3. They are instincts that have helped South win the Fox Valley Conference Valley Division title again this season, and instincts that can help the Gators remain undefeated in division play with a win against Huntley at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
“She’s always been told she has those things, as far as a setter goes, that a lot of girls have to train a lot to get,” Fontana said. “Her touch on the ball is very natural. She obviously has the physique. She’s tall and can put up a block. I think she’s been told she has those things and now she’s just maturing into it.”
Sivesind, who now has 561 assists, clearly is comfortable on the court running the show, and her hitters know she will give them workable – and often precise – passes. In the Gators’ first match against Huntley on Sept. 24, Sivesind kept the Raiders off guard with quick sets to the middle and on balls to the outsides, and by setting to powerful outside Carly Nolan when Nolan was in the back row.
It’s a strategy Sivesind’s Sky High club coach and Cary-Grove coach Patty Langanis worked with Sivesind during the offseason to develop. Like Fontana, Langanis saw Sivesind’s natural talent.
Putting all the pieces together would be the challenge, and Sivesind rose to it.
“Getting her in the right mindset was important,” Langanis said. “She started to really understand how important she is to the offense and that the pressure is on her in order for her hitters to be successful. She had to speed up her tempo.
“… We put a lot of pressure on her in the offseason and it was tough to respond, but by the end it was clear that she did. To be a good setter, a great setter, you have to be fast and perfect. And I saw a lot of maturity in her.”
With an arsenal of hitters to employ, Sivesind could settle for realizing good hitters often make their setters’ passes look better than they actually are. Instead, Sivesind is relentlessly focused and determined.
“I think I improved my leadership and placing the ball where my hitters can be successful,” Sivesind said. “I can set anywhere and I know I have someone who can put it down. I worked a lot (in the offseason on placing the ball and connecting with my hitters, talking more.
“I definitely was a scared little sophomore playing on a big varsity floor. But as I’ve matured, it’s just come to me.”