Volleyball

Skills honed in the sand come indoors for Sprague's Lindsey Grossman

Lindsey Grossman plays volleyball with rare versatility.

As a 5-foot-11 outside hitter for Sprague High School, she probably should be an offensively focused player who combines precision hitting with strong power as she has done in every Greater Valley Conference match this season, recording between 11 and 16 kills each match.

But then she’ll lead the Olympians in digs, like she did when she had 20 against West Albany, and play all three back row spots with a high serve-receive percentage.

And then Grossman will play strong at the net and block the ball, like she did when she had three blocks against West Salem.

When you realize the world in which she’s been playing the past few years, she makes total sense.

Lindsey Grossman is an outside hitter on Sprague High School's volleyball team.

Lindsey Grossman is an outside hitter on Sprague High School’s volleyball team.

Grossman has become enamored with the beach volleyball game, and it benefits her once she gets back inside.

“It’s a lot more challenging because you have a lot more court to cover because there’s only two people on the court, but it also teaches you to place it in different spots and see what’s open,” Grossman said.

Grossman transferred to Sprague prior to her junior season from West Albany, where she was an honorable mention all-league player as a sophomore.

It’s impossible to tell the impact a player will have on another team – especially one with a close-knit senior class – but her presence has been felt since playing in open gyms over the summer.

“She’s such an asset to this team because she’s loud, she’s aggressive and she’s willing to go all out and do whatever it takes for us to win, even if that means she doesn’t play or plays a position that isn’t what she wants to do,” said senior libero Mollie Herron.

“I think she’s such a great addition to the team this year.”

Her well-rounded skill set has benefitted Sprague (4-2 Greater Valley Conference, 5-6 overall before Tuesday’s match against South Salem).

But what she brings to the court when she’s not touching the ball has as much impact as when she’s hitting.

She brought a vocal presence and an enthusiasm on the court that is undeniable.

When the Olympians were in the midst of a 29-27 third set win against West Salem – which Sprague eventually lost 3-1 – her energy was apparent as it rubbed off on the rest of the team.

“It’s super important because I am that person,” Sprague coach Anne Olsen said. “I was that player that was super loud and intense on the court. As the coach it’s refreshing to have someone out on the court that’s able to do it because I don’t have to do it.

“I think it’s huge because it effects the team, it effects how they are able to play. I don’t think girls this age really realize how much emotion comes with someone getting excited. So that’s what we’re always trying to teach the girls to get excited, even on the littlest things because it will help boost morale on the court.”

Grossman knew she was going to be a beach volleyball player when she was 8 years old and first watched Misty May-Treanor and Keri Walsh Jennings.

She immediately started playing volleyball indoors and has ever since.

It wasn’t until Grossman’s eighth grade year that she finally got her feet wet, so to speak, in the sand.

As soon as Grossman tried it, she went full ahead.

Throughout the summer she spends countless hours practicing and playing sand volleyball with partner Makenna Northern of Central Linn at the DSK Academy in Corvallis.

Grossman teamed with Northern to win the 16U: Advance bracket of The Seaside Beach Classic in 2015 and placed fourth this summer.

With beach volleyball being added as an NCAA sanctioned sport this year and more colleges adding it to their programs – more as a supplement to their indoor teams than a replacement – playing beach volleyball in college is a reachable goal for Grossman.

“When I first started playing there wasn’t that many opportunities for scholarships in sand, but I remember the first girl to get it, she got a scholarship for beach to UCLA,” Grossman said.

“That shows it’s really improved over the years. My goal is to get a dual scholarship for indoor volleyball and sand.”

Lindsey Grossman, an outside hitter on Sprague High School's volleyball team, prepares to serve at a practice on Monday, Sept. 19, 2016.

Lindsey Grossman, an outside hitter on Sprague High School’s volleyball team, prepares to serve at a practice on Monday, Sept. 19, 2016.

Even for girls who have played volleyball seemingly all of their life indoors, sand volleyball can be a major challenge.

Going from playing with five teammates on the court to playing with one teammate on the court can be a major challenge.

A greater challenge for most indoor players is the physical difficulty of playing on the sand.

It makes many appreciate playing on hard wood gym courts.

“I wanted to try it one summer and then I started to run it the sand and I was like, oh, hell no,” said senior rightside hitter Gracie Pfau. “This is too much work on my thighs.

“I know it definitely increases agility and speed and especially jumping because when I tried to jump in the sand I only got like one inch off the ground. Props to any sand volleyball player, especially Lindsey.”

bpoehler@StatesmanJournal.com, 503-399-6701 or Twitter.com/bpoehler

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