Since beginning Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) play Sept. 27, two Loyola women’s volleyball setters have recorded 10 or more assists in every game while their opponents have only done this twice.
During that stretch, senior Delilah Wolf and first-year Katie Mather have both recorded 15 or more assists four times. In their recent win over Valparaiso University Oct. 25, Mather racked up 24 assists and Wolf recorded 17. Both Mather and Wolf have more than 450 total assists each so far and both average more than five assists per set.
Being in charge of the offense and distributing the ball, Mather and Wolf are two stars in the MVC as the Ramblers currently rank third in assists per set in the MVC with 12.6. The team is also third in the conference in total assists with 1,084 and they hold that spot despite playing seven fewer sets than first-place University of Northern Iowa.
“I try not to overflood [her] with too much information. I’m there when she needs me or if she asks.”
— Delilah Wolf, senior setter
Loyola head coach Amanda Berkley said the two-setter rotation is beneficial for the team as both Wolf and Mather are able to play off each other’s strengths. Berkley said it’s rare to have two setters on the same team who can do so many different things on the defensive end.
“Last year, we only had one setter,” Berkley said. “This year, it’s nice to have the ability to do different things and use both of their strengths.”
Mather, a neuroscience major, said Wolf has been “huge” in teaching her the ins and outs of collegiate volleyball. Mather said student assistant coach Anna Fluent, a former Loyola setter, constantly works with her and Wolf in practice on timing and ball placement.
“Both [Wolf] and Anna have been really helpful,” Mather said. ”Anna taking that new role as a coach, she’s definitely been helping me a lot with the technical things that are really hard to miss. [Wolf] has really helped me being composed on the court and seeing what each individual hitter needs more of to make them successful.”
Mather leads the team with 574 total assists and 6.83 assists per set. Wolf, a psychology major, said Mather already has excellent timing with the hitters on the team and is far better than most first-years at the position. She added Mather’s defensive presence on the team has helped balance out the rotation and complements Wolf’s skill as a blocker.
“She’s definitely smaller and lower to the ground on defense so having her in that back row is really nice,” Wolf said. “[With the two-setter rotation], we can just change up the routes and it makes the offense more dynamic.”
In a performance that impressed Wolf and the coaching staff, Mather put up 16 assists against Northern Iowa, which sits in first place in the MVC.
On the defensive end, Wolf is more of a blocker and Mather is a back-row defender, and Wolf said there isn’t much advice she can pass down to Mather about defense. Wolf said along with her setting skills, Mather has progressed defensively, too.
Wolf said she’s remained in the background as Mather has progressed this season, being there to serve as a resource when she needs.
“I try not to overflood [her] with too much information,” Wolf said. “I’m there when she needs me or if she asks.”
Loyola is scheduled to continue its season Nov. 8 when it takes on Missouri State University. First serve is scheduled for 6 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPN3.