Marquette Wire

Senior setter is cool, calm and “amazing”

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Photo by Andrei Greska / andrei.greska@marquette.edu

Senior Nikki Klingsporn leans slightly forward on the tips of her toes, hands in front of her, preparing for what is about to come. A 70 mph serve whizzes past, but Klingsporn has no time to focus on that. She has to run to the net in anticipation of the pass that is to come, for not only does she have to find the ball in midair, but she also has to scan the defense, call a play, find her teammates and finally set the ball.

On a good day, this will only happen about 100 more times. Such is the life of a setter.

The setter on a volleyball team is the prototypical field captain — a quarterback if you will. She must call plays, execute them and rally her team point after point. Only unlike most quarterbacks, she has no fancy headsets or play-calling boards on the sideline to help her out. It’s all in her head and done on the fly, in the middle of a rally.

Klingsporn is not just any ordinary setter though; the Minnesota native and Wisconsin-Madison transfer is one of the top five setters in the country, according to coach Bond Shymansky. He named her one of two team captains this season and lavished praise on his stalwart senior.

“Nikki is awesome,” Shymansky said. “She’s a great team leader and is such a cool, calm competitor out on the court. She’s really taken control of our offense and loves running it.”

Teammate and freshman Catherine Mayer said Klingsporn is a great team leader both on and off the court.

“She welcomed all of the freshmen coming in and made sure the whole team stayed together,” Mayer said.

The senior has all the makings of great leadership. Both of her parents are coaches in Minnesota — her mom a volleyball coach and her dad a basketball coach.

“They’ve been very influential in my life,” Klingsporn said. “They’ve been my coaches growing up all the way up until college. They always have good advice to give me. My dad talks to me a lot about what I need to work on, not so much in volleyball, but just my attitude and personality on the court.”

Shymansky said her parents’ influence is seen in the way she plays the game.

“You just see it in the way she understands the game,” Shymansky said. “She’s very cerebral, and she’s definitely a student of the game.”

Klingsporn currently leads the Big East in assists-per-set and has two of the top five Big East records for assists in a match this year — 58 against St. Mary’s and 57 against Toledo.

As stellar of a player as Klingsporn has become here at Marquette, there was another sport that almost took her away from volleyball: basketball. Klingsporn was a McDonald’s High School All-American nominee in basketball her senior year of high school. Although she fell in love with and ultimately chose volleyball, she hasn’t turned her back on basketball.

“I got to play a couple open gyms with the girl’s basketball team,” Klingsporn said. “I actually played against Angel Robinson in high school. I miss it a lot. I try to go to as many games as I can because I miss it so much.”

Nevertheless, Klingsporn dreams of being a volleyball coach after her college career ends.

“I think it just runs in my blood,” Klingsporn added. “I have that passion for volleyball and those leadership qualities to be a coach.”

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