Being a setter on the volleyball court had always come natural to Martin County West senior Kennedy Janssen. And this season, with the help of a potent offense, Janssen reach 1,084 career set assists.
"When I was younger my mom was a coach, so I went along to practices and tournaments all the time," said Janssen. "And when I started playing, a coach suggested I try setting and it just seemed fun and came naturally to me, so I just stuck with it."
Janssen sticking with setting helped lead the Mavericks to back-to-back Class A state tournament appearances, including a sixth-place finish at the tournament this fall.
GRAND SETTER — Martin County West setter Kennedy Janssen (11) lofts a back set to Maverick hitter Kate Thiesse (7) for a slide spike during regular-season volleyball action in Sherburn. Janssen went on to distribute more than 1,000 set assists to close out her prep playing days. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
"Last year we ran a 6-2 offense, which means that we had two setters in there sometimes," said Janssen. "Morgan (Williamson) did a lot of setting, but I got a chance to do some and played in the back row a little more, too."
This year, with Janssen handling the setting responsibilities herself, the experience of playing in the state tournament was helpful. What was even better, Janssen said, about this year's team was the chemistry that the players shared.
"This year was just so great. We are like a family, like sisters. I've played with almost all the girls the whole time that I've played volleyball, so that made this season even more special," said Janssen.
Before heading to the tournament this year, Janssen found out at the state tournament pep rally that she had surpassed the career mark for sets.
"I really had no idea that I was anywhere close to that before the season. So the thought hadn't even crossed my mind," said Janssen. "I broke it during the section championship, but I am glad that they waited to give it to me, because I remember being in the zone for that match. It was a total surprise though and is pretty cool."
The all-Valley Conference setter distributed 859 sets for the Mavericks this season, who finished the campaign with a 27-8 record.
"I think with my hitters this season, it was really easy for me. I've played with these girls so long that I know how and where they like their sets to be," said Janssen. "And I was always confident, no matter where I sent the ball, that they could score."
The senior Sentinel All-Area selection had the help of senior hitter Kate Thiesse, juniors McKenna Taylor and Hailey Leiding, and sophomores Jordan Gregory and Reilly Geistfeld.
"The excitement that I shared with my teammates after we won a point was the best," said Janssen. "I knew it didn't matter which one of my teammates I set, they were capable of scoring. And getting a perfect pass-set-spike, there is nothing better than that."
While Janssen helped her teammates rack up the kills, the Maverick setter also scored three of her own kills, in addition to making 160 digs and serving up 12 aces, during the season.
"Some setters really like it when they get a turn to tip a ball or get a kill," said Janssen. "But I always enjoyed knowing that I was sending the ball to my teammate who was going to get one."