On a team that features seven upperclassmen, the star of the Lehigh volleyball team happens to be an underclassman.
As a sophomore, Ana Spangenberg leads the Mountain Hawks in multiple categories including kills, and she ranks third in digs.
While Spangeberg has become a star player this season, her growth from last year is what makes her stand out.
“Her freshman year was like being on a roller-coaster,” coach Bob Bertucci said. “She had the ability, and one game she’d play unbelievable and the next game, ‘eh not so good,’ and all of sudden she’d be unbelievable again.”
Bertucci said Spangenberg’s consistency is an indicator that she is maturing as a player.
“Last year I would have considered myself an inconsistent player,” Spangenberg said. “I worked really hard during the spring and the summer, and I think that mentality is a big thing I’ve been focusing on this year.”
Spangenberg said she has been trying to stay confident, but it can be hard for her considering volleyball is essentially a game reliant on mistakes.
“You score on the other teams’ mistakes,” Spangenberg said. “It’s really easy to get down on yourself as a player, but this year I am focusing on telling myself it’s not the end of the world if I lose a point.”
Her new mentality and consistency has allowed her to emerge as a leader on the team.
Captain Kelly Bennett said Spangenberg has developed self-confidence this season and knows she is capable of performing in high-pressure situations.
“When she’s on the court, she knows that that’s her place and she’s very deserving of that spot,” Bennett said. “She’s a really good offensive hitter who we can always rely on to put the ball away, especially in crunch times. (Spangenberg) brings a very competitive edge to our team and that was really well seen during preseason.”
Along with her competitive drive, Spangenberg has become a versatile player this season, evolving into a six-position player, which means she’s always on the court.
“She (has) a fast arm swing and she’s very knowledgeable of where to place the ball and when to place it,” Bennett said. “She’s really good at mixing up the attack. She’ll start hitting hard and then put tips or roll shots when defense is on their heals.”
Bertucci said the team looks for Spangenberg to deliver on the court.
“When the team is in a tough situation, she’s accepted reasonability,” Bertucci said. “‘Hey I’ll get the job done’ and the players are depending on her and she’s risen to the occasion a few times.”
By next year, Bertucci expects she will be able to assist in leading other players.
“Last year she was an important player for us as a freshman,” Bertucci said. “This year she is slowly becoming a key player in our offense, where we look to her to put the ball away quite often and she’s responded really well.”
While Spangenberg has become a leader in many areas on the court, Bertucci said she is working on decreasing her number of errors, becoming more flexible in her plays, stabilizing her blocks and strengthening herself as a defensive player.