Marquette Women’s Volleyball: Freshman Setter Has Big Shoes to Fill

Freshman setter Chelsea Heier was named Big East Freshman of the Week on Monday. Photo courtesy of Marquette Images.

Joining a group of talented upperclassmen attackers and experienced back row players has been no easy task for freshman setter Chelsea Heier. But she does have one advantage going for her: being able to work every day with an All-American setter.

Nikki Klingsporn, an All-American setter for Marquette in 2010, was hired as an assistant coach this season and has given the talented freshman one-on-one instruction that is already paying dividends.

Heier said Klingsporn’s experience with the current team has helped her learn more about Marquette hitters’ tendencies. Klingsporn is just a year removed from the same position Heier now holds.

“She knows exactly how hitters on the team need to be set so she’s really good about taking her experience with the hitters and teaching me,” Heier said.

As much as Klingsporn has helped the San Clemente, Calif. native with technique, coach Bond Shymansky said Klingsporn acting as the scout team setter in practice has been just as important.

“That modeling concept has really had a big impact,” Shymansky said. “Sometimes Nikki is helping by doing rather than saying, and (Chelsea) is smart enough to pick up on that and translate it to her own game.

“There’s this mirror image that Chelsea is watching across the net, and she starts realizing more things she can do as a setter and things her teammates can do as hitters,” he added.

In the Golden Eagles’ complex offense, Heier’s ability to pick up tendencies and learn from her mistakes on the go has been important. The speed of the game also has slowed down for the freshman, allowing her to make better choices on the court.

“I’ve been really impressed with how quickly she can think through the game,” Shymansky said. “She has a lot of responsibility riding on her hands, and I see her making a lot of great choices mentally.”

With chemistry playing a large part in the success of a setter and her attackers, Heier’s steady progression has been a warm welcome for the Golden Eagles, who will need her to mesh on the go as the team’s only true setter.

Through seven games, Heier has averaged 11.84 assists per set for the Golden Eagles (4-3) and was named the Big East Freshman of the Week on Monday. While only a small sample size of a season sure to have ups and downs, it is comparable to the 12.10 assists per set Klingsporn averaged her senior season.

While Heier is not making anyone forget about the All-American Klingsporn, she is already on her way to a productive four-year career at Marquette, in part due to Klingsporn’s guidance. Still, Shymansky insists Heier is going to be her own player.

“Chelsea is going to be her own setter,” Shymansky said. “We don’t want her to be Nikki, we want her to be Chelsea. Her flair and style are going to be truly dynamic for us.”

Klingsporn also sees a bright future for the talented freshman.

“She’s going to do great,” Klingsporn said of her protégé. “She’s going to break records, and she’s going to perform well in conference. She’s going to do it all because she has it all.”