Mina House couldn’t hide her excitement after ripping a cross-court spike against Menasha on Tuesday night.
It was perfectly struck, whizzing past at least three Bluejays, who never had a chance to react to the ball, before skimming off the Oshkosh North fieldhouse floor just inside the back corner of the court for a point.
Before the ball had even come to rest, House had thrown her hands up in the air in celebration with the rest of her teammates and then she flashed her infectious smile has she shared some high-fives.
Imagine if hitting were her favorite thing to do on a volleyball court.
“This is going to sound weird, but I like passing more than I like hitting,” said House, a senior for the Spartans, who has played varsity all four years at North. “I love to be able to pass a good ball when someone puts it down. I love doing that. … Being all-around is the best thing you can do being a volleyball player.”
House, a first-team all-conference selection last season in the talent-rich Fox Valley Association, is one of those rare big-time hitters in volleyball that does play all-around the rotation for her squad.
And she isn’t just filling in a spot. As much as her athletic 6-foot, 1-inch frame looks natural stalking the net and putting away spike after spike, she looks just as comfortable receiving a tough serve and making a perfectly weighted pass to the setter.
“She really is a really good passer,” North setter Jordan Foote said. “It’s really impressive that someone of her height and as hitter — they aren’t usually passers — but she is an all-around player.”
That was something that was very important to House.
She didn’t want to be the player that had to be subbed for when she headed to the back row. She wanted to be out there the full rotation and so, she went to work.
“Everything in volleyball you have to work on,” House said. “I definitely worked on (passing) a lot. Once you learn about technique and everything, it’s pretty easy to start to get the hang of it and then teach people what you know.”
It’s allowed House to develop into one of the top passers on the team and to take on more of a leadership role with North.
“(Playing all-around) speaks volumes for her work ethic, the kind of leader she is on the floor,” North coach Luke Herriges said. “She knows she can help make the people around her better, no matter what she’s doing. She doesn’t just take pride in her hitting.”
House didn’t start playing volleyball until about seventh grade, she said, which is late for many players of her caliber.
Yet, with an instant love for the sport, she didn’t mind putting in the work to develop her game and quickly she was playing at level comparable to others her age.
“When I played around my club season, I felt myself getting better and catching up to other girls in the FVA who are really talented,” House said. “Playing with people who are really good makes you a better player.”
One of those players was older sister, Simone, who was already taking on a standout role with the Spartans. Simone currently plays for Missouri State University.
Two grades younger than her sister, Mina followed her older sister’s path onto North’s varsity team as a freshman and played two seasons with her.
“Playing with her for the first two years was definitely a really good experience for me,” said House, who also plans on playing collegiately next season but hasn’t announced where. “When I followed her through high school, I just wanted to play better than her the whole entire time. She was a good inspiration for me to actually work harder and try to achieve more than she did.”
During the first three years of House’s career, the Spartans have won more games each season, finishing 13-19 last year and 2-7 in the Fox Valley Association.
House believes the team can blow way past those numbers this year.
“Each year that I’ve been here, we’ve accomplished more and that’s what makes me really excited,” House said. “It’s my senior year, I really think we are going to do well.
“I love when my teammates are having as much as I am and everyone is putting forth the most amount of effort. Playing with people you really like and who love the sport as much as you do definitely helps.”