Five of the six players wear the same-colored jersey during a volleyball match.
So why not the sixth?
Janisa Shaffer knows. She is Fort Lupton’s Libero, a defensive specialist.
“I am the passer,” she said. “So basically, I go into the back row and pass for them. And I serve for one of my middles (middle hitters). It’s my favorite position. I used to be an outside hitter my freshman and sophomore year. It’s where I belong.”
The reason is pretty simple.
“I feel like I’m more in control,” Shaffer said. “I obviously don’t have the height to be in the front. I’ve been told I was a good passer. Cindy (FLHS coach Cindy Seiler) has been trying to get me in the back row, and I was like, ‘No, I want to hit.’ I found out I really enjoyed it.”
Her new spot on the team enables her to be a team leader.
“I try and lead these girls, though I’m not a senior,” said Shaffer, who is a junior. “I make sure I’m always talking on the court so they know how to react to every ball on the court. I like the leadership part. It puts a lot of weight on me, but it’s nothing I can’t handle. I really enjoy being on the court with all these girls.”
Shaffer had a big part during the Bluedevils’ five-set loss to Stargate School Aug. 26. The Eagles won 25-23, 20-25, 28-26, 23-25, 18-16. Leads of bigger than five points in any set were a rarity.
Stephanie Millmore, a left-hander who did most of her damage from the right outside hitting position, led the Eagles with 17 kills. Valeria Enriquez was next with 10. Maddie Lamar compiled 31 assists. No stats were immediately available for the Bluedevils.
“That was fun on both sides,” said Seiler. “We had a tough night the other night (a three-set loss against Strasburg). But they came back and regrouped. They played with grit. We’ve been changing a lot of things this year. The players on the court wanted it more. They were controlling their side, and there weren’t as many nerves. They relaxed.”
The Eagles scored the last five points to win the opening set. Fort Lupton scored the last eight points to win the second set. Alie Lewis of the Eagles served up an ace to close out the third set. The Bluedevils scored the last five points to take the fourth set.
Millmore’s four kills propelled the Eagles to a four-point lead in the final set. FLHS rebounded with an ace from Trish Hammen and some unforced errors to force a 14-all tie. Stargate won the match on its fifth try, thanks to a Fort Lupton hitting miscue.
“We have some girls who’ve never played varsity before in big positions,” Seiler said. “Alyssa Clark (a sophomore) is one of our starting outsides (outside hitters). She got a few touches last year on JV (junior varsity). She’s hammering the ball for me.”
Seiler said one weakness will be youth.
“We have a lack of experience at the varsity level,” Seiler said. “I have a freshman playing in the back row for us and a sophomore starting on the outside. Our strengths are going to be Rylea Sarazen and Nevaeh Gonzales. They’ve been setters for a while, and they keep things positive.”
Stargate won its first two matches this season.
“We had a rocky start with all the service errors,” said Eagles’ coach Andrew Hinde. “The growth was huge tonight. Their attitudes showed. We’d lose five or six points in a row. They pushed each other. We reset ourselves. They came back and did it. It was amazing to watch.”
“I go home sad that we lost the match,” Shaffer said. “This is the best we’ve played. These are new girls. Most of us haven’t played with each other. We found our rhythm really well.”